Arepas! Fun to say and also fun to eat. Tex Mex food is big here in Texas. Officially it’s probably more Tex than Mex, but there are lots of tortillas, tamales, and cornmeal involved in the dishes at local restaurants. One of the latest trends is to make appetizers called arepas.
They are small, homemade cornmeal “pancakes” that are topped with all kinds of fun Tex Mex toppings. Officially I think they’re more of a South American dish but we won’t tell the Tex Mex restaurants. 😉 They sound more complicated than they are, but if you can flip a pancake you can make arepas.
You can top them with taco fillings, fajita type fillings, pork barbecue, or pretty much anything you can dream up. I went with the standard beef with a slightly spicy kick. The arepas use masarepa which is a coarsely ground cornmeal. If you can’t find that locally, you can also use plain cornmeal that’s in most grocery stores.
Beef Arepas with Quick Pickled Veggies
- 1/4 cup (56g) red radishes, sliced
- 1 cup (165g) red onion, thinly sliced
- 12 oz lean ground beef (93/7)
- 2 tsp (8g) sugar
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp chile powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp oregano
- 1/4 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup (150g) masarepa OR coarse yellow cornmeal
- 1 ripe avocado (~90g), pit removed and sliced
Slice the radishes and onions into thin slices, reserving half the onion for later. Heat a pan over medium heat, and add the radishes and the first half of the onion along with the sugar and vinegar. Bring to a boil, cook, stirring occasionally until the onion has softened and the vinegar has evaporated slightly. Remove from heat and transfer to a heatproof bowl to pickle.
Return the pan to the heat and add the ground beef and remaining half of the onion. Brown the ground beef, breaking the chunks into smaller pieces. Cook thoroughly until there are no pink parts remaining. Stir in the spices and mix well. Cook another minute or so to blend the beef with the spices. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl.
Mix the masarepa or cornmeal with 1/2 cup of water to make a dough that is the texture of playdough. If the dough is slightly dry, add just a little more water. Divide the dough into 4 equal sized pieces and press into rounds about 1/4 inch thick. Return the pan to the heat and cook the arepas for about 2 minutes per side, flipping like pancakes, until they are golden brown and cooked thoroughly. Remove from heat.
To serve, place an arepa on a plate, top with the beef mixture, picked veggies, and sliced avocado.
Makes 4 arepas at approximately 255 calories each – 14g protein, 34g carbs, and 7g fat.
Treat these like bowl night where everyone gets to make their own arepa. You get to control the toppings and amounts that go on yours, and the kids also love making their own creations. You should see some of the versions that the upscale, trendy restaurants come up with around here like pork belly arepas with fig jam.
Pinkies up! I think pork barbecue topped with cole slaw might be as crazy as I get. Let your imagination run wild.