Arepas with octopus and lobster salad

  • Preparation Time20 mins
  • Cooking Time1 mins
  • Serves6
  • DifficultyHard

For the salad

900ml red wine vinegar
4 Spanish onions, roughly chopped
4 carrots, roughly chopped
1 head celery, roughly chopped
15g black peppercorns
Handful thyme sprigs
2 whole octopus, about 2.75kg each, webbing cut between the tentacles
1 lobster, about 560g
4 yellow peppers, roasted and peeled
15ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp smoked paprika
10 to 20g honey
Freshly ground black pepper
15g coarsely chopped coriander leaves
1/2 to 1 whole habanero, seeded and finely diced

For the arepas

590ml milk
60g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
185g white arepa flour (precooked cornmeal)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
65g cotija cheese
10g honey
Vegetable or canola oil, for cooking
For the octopus and lobster salad:

1) Fill a large pot with 11L water, add the red wine vinegar, onions, carrots, celery, peppercorns and thyme, and bring to a boil. Add the octopus, cover with parchment, and reduce the heat if necessary to keep the liquid at a simmer. Simmer until quite tender but the tentacles are still attached, about 1 hr.

2) Bring another large pot of water to a boil, salt it generously, and add the lobster. Cook 4 mins and transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.

3) Puree the peppers in a blender with the lemon juice, paprika, 10g honey and some salt and pepper. Taste, and add more honey if you like, and salt or pepper.

4) Cut the tentacles from the octopus and discards the heads. Some of the skin will slough off on its own; don't worry about removing the rest. Chop roughly into bite-sized pieces. Remove the lobster claws and tail from the shell, and cut into bite-sized pieces.

5) Toss the octopus and lobster with enough of the pepper puree to coat lightly. Add the coriander and habanero and toss again just to combine.

For the arepas:

1) Bring milk to a simmer in a small saucepan, then remove from heat and stir in butter.

2) Combine arepa flour, salt, pepper and cotija cheese in a large bowl. Add the hot milk and honey and stir until combined. Let mixture stand until milk is absorbed enough for a soft dough to form, 1 to 2 mins (dough will continue to stiffen).

3) Form the dough into 12 balls (about 5cm in diameter) and flatten between palms into 10cm patties (just under 1cm thick).

4) Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until the oil begins to shimmer, fry 4 arepas at a time, until lightly golden brown on both sides and just cooked through, about 2 to 3 mins per side; transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels.

5) Slice the arepas in half crosswise, mound some of the salad on the bottom, and top with the other half.

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