Masarepa is precooked, ground corn flour that is used to prepare arepas, a type of round, flat, corn cake that is popular in both Venezuela and Colombia. Arepas are prepared on a griddle, are eaten at almost any meal, and can be topped or filled with meats, cheeses, and/or vegetables.
Learn what foods you need to stock your pantry with to cook Colombian recipes.
Main component: precooked cornmeal
Region of use: South America
Most common use: making arepas
What Is Masarepa?
Masarepa is a convenience product, a modern arepa-maker's dream, as this ingredient takes a lot of the labor out of the process of making arepas.
A food most closely associated with Venezuela and Colombia, arepas used to be made by soaking dried corn and then manually pounding the grains to remove the seed germ and the outer lining. The remaining part of the corn was then cooked and ground and made into arepas.
Fortunately, the labor-intensive process for making masarepa is now done on an industrial level. Most grocery stores carry dried precooked corn flour that can be used for making arepas quickly and easily. Masarepa is combined with just a few ingredients to make a dough that's easy to work with.
Masarepa Vs. Masa Harina
Sometimes two ingredients are commonly confused, and for those who are new to South American cooking, it's not unusual to conflate masarepa and masa harina.
Masarepa is corn dough that is dried and ground into fine cornmeal and can be found in Latin food specialty stores and online. It is softer and more refined and the taste is starchier than masa harina. Look for the words harina de maiz refinada precocida (refined, precooked corn flour) on the package. Masarepa is the flour of choice for making arepas.
Masa harina, on the other hand, is made from corn treated with lye in a process called nixtamalization in order to remove the germ and outer lining before it is ground. Masa harina is used for making tortillas, tamales, pupusas, and gorditas and translates as "dough flour."
How to Use Masarepa
This ingredient is used to make arepas, which are an extremely versatile food and can be served as appetizers, snacks, or side dishes. Masarepa, when made into arepas, can easily turn into a full meal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, depending on whether you put meat, cheese, eggs, or vegetables with them—or a combination thereof.
What Does it Taste Like?
Masarepa has a corn taste, but it's milder than a tortilla. When made into arepas, its most common use, it's typically griddled like a pancake and becomes crisp on the outside and soft in the middle.
Masarepa is the flour of choice for arepas, some baked goods, and empanadas, deep-fried turnovers filled with meat, veggies, or cheese. In Colombia, arepas are usually made a bit thinner than in Venezuela, where arepas are often used to make sandwiches filled with meat or cheese, such as reina pepiada.
Depending on the dish you'll be serving them with, arepas can be grilled, baked or deep-fried. They're almost always prepared with masarepa, but some varieties call for hominy or even quinoa.
- Pandebono (Colombian Cheese Bread)
- Arepas de Choclo (Sweet Corn Cakes With Cheese)
- Arepas with Pulled Pork and Cilantro Garlic Mayonnaise
Where to Buy Masarepa
You can find arepa flour pretty easily in specialty stores that cater to Latin food and online. This product is also sometimes called masa al instante and harina precocida. Common brands are Harina PAN, Areparina, Harina Juana, and Goya (which comes in both white and yellow varieties). Many grocery stores, especially ones that cater to a large population of Spanish speakers, will carry masarepa in the international or Latin foods section.
Masarepa is a pantry item that does not require refrigeration. It can keep for months in a cool, dark place.