These flat corn cakes from Colombia are also popular in Venezuela. The precooked cornmeal, which can be called either masarepa or masa precocida, is available in Latin groceries, especially those that feature South American ingredients.
2 cups yellow or white masa precocida (precooked cornmeal)
2 tsp. salt
2 cups crumbled queso fresco, grated queso seco, or grated Parmesan cheese
Butter, for cooking and serving
Extra cheese, for serving
1. In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal and salt and stir well. Slowly pour in 1 1/2 cups water a little at a time while stirring, adding only enough to make a firm and moist dough that easily holds its shape. Add the cheese and knead into the dough until well incorporated. Take 1/3-cup portions of dough at a time and shape them into balls. Flatten the balls to form thick patties, approximately 3 to 3 1/2 inches round.
2. Generously grease a skillet or griddle with the butter, and cook the arepas until cooked through and lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
3. To serve, spread the patties with butter if desired, or split in half and sandwich with additional white cheese. Serve hot.