Venezuelan Arepas: La Reina Pepiada

La Reina Pepiada is a Venezuelan specialty, named for Miss World 1955, Susana Duijm, who was the first to deliver the crown to Venezuela (though hardly the last, as this nation is now renowned for its pageant winners). The name of the sandwich translates literally as the “Curvaceous Queen”, and there is no doubt that eating enough of these will transform you too, dear reader, into a well rounded figure if you are not careful. Nevertheless, a few indulgences probably won’t kill you.

I learned this particular recipe, along with the method for making Venezuelan arepas, from a Venezuelan girlfriend I lived with in Panama, and then later on in Montreal. She used to wander all around Montreal looking for proper Reina Pepiadas, but never found them. The arepa, a kind of fried and/or baked corn cake stuffed with filling, was readily available in the Colombian style, but not in the Venezuelan. Eventually we just made them ourselves, and they went like this:

arepas - harina pan

Part 1: The Arepa.

At the heart of the arepa is a kind of prebaked corn flour called “Harena Pan”. You can procure this at the Mexican spice store on Douglas St. It is important to get this kind of flour because the more well known “Maseca” used in Mexican dishes is entirely different and won’t work. Other types of corn flour will not work, either.

While Colombian arepas tend to be smaller, flatter, and only pan-fried, the Venezuelan variety is plumper, and is also oven baked, after an initial browning in the pan.

arepas - browing the arepas


Take a bowl and pour some flour in, maybe a cup or so. Add salt to taste and a splash of cooking oil (but not too much).  After this, take warm to hot water and add it gradually to the flour, mixing with your hand as you go. You should work the dough until it has the consistency of wet wheel pottery clay. You need only add as much water as is required for this process . Work the flour and water until you get the desired effect. After this, shape the dough into pucks that are ¾ thick and 3-5 inches diameter. Set them on a plate ready to cook.

Next, warm up your oven to 375, and put some oil in a pan at the same time. Fry the arepas on each side until they are golden coloured and then put them on a baking sheet and bake them. Arepas will be ready when you tap them with your knuckle and they make a hollow “tuk tuk tuk” sound. This may take 30 minutes or so—sometimes more, sometimes less—keep checking your oven until you have it down.  After this you can drain them on paper towel, then cut them open and fill them with what you like.


Part 2: The Filling.

 Note: Many of Adam’s recipes are “cook by feel.” That is why the ingredients do not have a amount listed with them. He suggests tasting often so as to create a flavour profile that you enjoy.








Red Onion

Spice and salt to taste



The heart of La Reina Pepiada is the chicken and avocado filling. I roasted chicken thighs until the meat was easy to shred with a fork, and then mix the meat in with the avocado, mayo, chopped tomato, cilantro, lime and etc. It isn’t astrophysics. When the filling is ready, cut an arepa in half and stuff some filling in.

arepas - la reina pepiada 2


If any Colombians are reading this, I want you to know I love Colombian arepas. I’m just not talking about them today. If you don’t want to make this particular filling, you can still make an arepa and stuff it with whatever you like. There is an amazing scrambled egg and tomato dish called Perico, and there are various beef fillings to be had, too. Feel free to experiment and have fun!

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Born and raised in the mysterious East (by which I mean Ontario and Quebec, not Asia), Adam migrated out to British Columbia in search of adventure and fortune. He had been at different times a scholar, a musician, a poet and a ...

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