Arepas de coco | Whenever I go home to Puerto Rico my family and I spend a day traveling around the island and stopping at roadside kiosks to enjoy some fritura and a cold drink. During my last visit home, we traveled along the coast and stopped at a small kiosk serving fried treats and fresh seafood salad. The best surprise was the discovery that they were also serving freshly fried arepas de coco. One of my favorite treats is a crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside coconutty arepa topped with fresh seafood salad.
Today I thought to myself that it would be sad if I could only enjoy one of my favorite street foods when I visit Puerto Rico. This is why I decided to make them at home and share them with you all.
Puerto Rican Arepa vs. Venezuelan Arepa & Columbian Arepa
If you are familiar with the arepas of Mexico, Venezuela, and Columbia you will notice that Puerto Rican arepas are different. First of all the arepas found throughout South America are corn flour based, also called harina PAN. The cakes are shaped by hand like a patty and then pan-fried. I would describe them like a thin corn cake that is pan-fried. However, Puerto Rican arepas, also called “domplines” in the Dominican Republic and southern parts of Puerto Rico, are flour based. The dough is then rolled thin and deep fried.
Puerto Rican Arepas Recipe
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup canned coconut milk
How to Make Arepas de Coco
Notes for Arepas de Coco
- Just like when making the perfect pita bread the key to getting arepas to puff up and create that wonderful air pocket is to roll the dough thin.
- If you don’t like coconut you can use regular milk.
- Make sure the oil is hot before adding arepas. To be sure it is up to temperature add a small scrap of dough to the oil. It should quickly puff and begin to brown.
- You CANNOT substitute the AP flour for nut or coconut flours. These flours behave very differently and are much denser then AP flour and therefore will not work with the recipe as written.
- As with any fried food, these are best served fresh. However, they can be stored in an airtight container and enjoyed for up to a week. They will not be crispy but they will still be tasty.
- This is a soft dough that may be tacky at first. Besure to lightly dust the dough and the work surface to keep it form sticking.
There is something magical about fry bread. While fry bread may not be friendly to the waistline, fried foods are delicious. In Puerto Rico, street food is synonymous with fried food and one of my favorite fried treats. You may not find arepas at every roadside kiosk but they will probably have other amazing treats like pastelillos, bacalaitos, and alcapurrias. But you have been warned all of these are incredibly addictive. Are you in search of even more Puerto Rican flavors? Visit my entire collection of Puerto Rican recipes.
more bread love
- asiago black pepper bread
- no kneed skillet olive bread
- garlic knots
- mallorca bread (pan de mallorca)
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- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup canned coconut milk
- Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Wisk until well combined and add coconut milk. Mix until just combined. Flour your hands and work surface. Then knead dough until completely combined and tacky. Place in a bowl, cover with kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Divide the dough in half. On a floured work surface roll one-half about ⅛ inch thin. Using a glass or biscuit cutter cut rounds in the dough and repeat with remaining dough.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Test oil with a scrap of dough. It should puff and float. Once the oil is hot you can then carefully add dough rounds to the oil. Fry until dough puffs and then turn the rounds. Continue to fry until golden brown.
- Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain and cool. Serve warm and crisp.
Neither coconut flour or almond flour can be used as a substitute for all-purpose flour. They are both very dense flours and will not work for this recipe.