It's corn season! And Jersey corn is hands down the best corn. I know that for a fact because I was in Idaho this summer where we also had fresh corn, and it was nowhere near as good as Jersey corn. So there are good things about New Jersey 🙂
I have a lot of corn at home, so I wanted to make it the centerpiece of the meal. I made fresh corn arepas and a salsa with corn and tomatoes to go with the arepas. Arepas are fried corn pancakes or corn patties that are very popular in Latin American cuisine.
I still remember the day I tried my first arepa like it was yesterday. That's because it was like yesterday. Aldo brought home an arepa from a Colombian restaurant he went to for lunch and the second I tried it I was like, "OMG. WHY HAVE YOU NOT INTRODUCED ME TO THIS DELICIOUSNESS EARLIER?"
The next day I went and bought ingredients to make arepas. The first time I made them, I made them using this recipe and they turned out great. That recipe used yellow masarepa, which is cooked cornmeal. But now I wanted to make them with fresh corn, so I did some googling and found this recipe on about.com. These turned out so good, and they had an awesome fresh corn flavor to them.
The recipe I made still uses masarepa. You can find some in the Hispanic/Ethnic foods aisle of your grocery store, or the Goya aisle, as we like to call it. Make sure to get the yellow kind. Aldo says the white masarepa tastes terrible.
We ate the sweet corn arepas with a simple tomato-corn salsa, and with an amazing chili-shrimp salad on an avocado boat. (Recipe coming soon 🙂 )
If you don't want to bother with making queso fresco for the arepa recipe, you can just buy some farmer's cheese, or you can probably skip it altogether. Cheese makes everything more delicious, but I don't think it was necessary for the consistency of the batter.
I made the queso fresco the night before. I also pre-cooked the corn the day before by roasting it in the oven at 350F for 25 minutes. You can also microwave the corn (3 ears of corn = 14 minutes). Or just use canned corn if it's no longer corn season.
Sweet Corn Arepas
Makes 12-14 arepas. Total time: 35 mins.
- 1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels
- 1 3/4 cups milk
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups masarepa
- 1/2 cup queso fresco (fresh cheese), crumbled
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Vegetable oil for deep frying
1. Place the milk and the corn kernels into a blender or a food processor and pulse for a few seconds until the corn kernels are coarsely ground but some texture remains.
2. In a medium sauce pan, heat the milk and the corn mixture and add butter. Heat until the milk just starts simmering.
3. In a large bowl, mix the masarepa and the crumbled cheese. Carefully pour the hot milk/corn mixture into the masarepa. Add 1 taspoon of salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Allow to cool. (You can start on the salsa while the dough cools)
4. Once the dough is cool enough to touch, knead the dough with your hands until it is smooth. Working with about 1/3 cup (slightly less) at a time, shape the dough into 3 inch wide patties that are about 1/3 inch thick. Flatten them with your hand against a cutting board, and roll them on their sides to get smooth even sides. If the dough is sticking to your hands, then wet your hands with cold water before shaping the patties.
5. Now here is where I did a little experimenting. I wanted to see if arepas can be shallow fried, or even baked , to make them healthier. The short answer? No.
The long answer? Well, they're still edible and have a good flavor because either way they are fully cooked, but the deep fried ones are perfectly golden brown with an awesome crunch to them. The other ones just turned out mushy.
So lets deep fry these.
Add enough vegetable oil to coat a large pan with a 1/4 inch layer of oil. Heat the oil until a tiny test piece of arepa dough takes 30 seconds to turn golden brown. Remove the test piece. If it takes much longer, then turn the heat up. If it burns in 30 seconds, turn the heat down.
Carefully put 2-3 arepas into the oil and cook on one side for 45 seconds - 1 minute until the sides start to brown. Carefully flip the arepa with tongs and cook on the other side for 30 seconds.
Carefully remove the arepa and place on a paper towel to absorb the extra oil. Repeat until all of them are fried.
Top each corn arepa with salsa and enjoy!
Makes a small bowl of salsa. Total time: 5 minutes.
- 15 grape tomatoes (or 2 plum tomatoes)
- 1/3 cup fresh corn
- 1 small cubanelle pepper (or 1/2 bell pepper)
- 2 tablespoons chives, chopped (or 1 scallion)
- 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 small hot pepper (optional)
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Finely dice the tomatoes, so that the tomato pieces are just slightly bigger than the corn kernels. Finely dice the peppers.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mix well, and let the flavors blend together while you finish making the arepas.
What do you like to eat with your arepas?
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