Sweet Plantain and Steak Arepas with Tzatziki Hot Sauce

Arepas are the taco-sandwich hybrid you have to try. Fill these crispy corn cakes with sliced meat, veggies and spicy tzatziki sauce – it’s a blissful union of the best tastes and textures South America and Greece have to offer.

Serves: 10 (1 arepa each)
45 mins Prep Time 45 mins Cook Time
45 mins Prep Time
45 mins Cook Time
  • For the Arepas, heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet or frying pan on medium heat. Add the plantains and cook until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Remove the plantains and set aside.

  • Place the milk and the water with half of the butter in small saucepan. Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

  • Combine the masarepa and the sea salt in a medium bowl. Pour the milk mixture slowly into the polenta mixture, stirring until the liquid is fully absorbed. (The mixture may be slightly lumpy). Add the plantains and knead the mixture with your hands until it is smooth and the plantains are fully incorporated. Divide the dough evenly into 10 balls. Flatten each ball into a disk about 10cm (4”) in diameter and 1.5cm (½”) thick.

  • Melt 1 tablespoon of the remaining butter in the same cast iron frying pan on medium-high heat. Cook the arepas in batches for about 6 minutes per side or until golden brown and slightly crispy, pressing on the arepas slightly. Adjust the heat to medium-low if the arepas are browning too quickly. Add additional butter to the frying pan between batches if needed. Transfer the arepas to a platter and cool slightly. (The arepas can be made up to 3 days ahead. Refrigerate them in an airtight container. When ready to serve, bring them to room temperature before reheating in a hot, buttered frying pan.)

  • For the Tzatziki Sauce, mix the habanero, lime juice, vinegar, sugar and sea salt in a blender or food processor until smooth. Mix the tomatoes, cucumber and green onions in a medium bowl. Add the habanero mixture and toss to coat. Gently stir in the yogurt and coriander. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

  • For the Steak, brush with oil. Sprinkle with pepper, lemon zest, garlic granules and oregano. Grill the steak over a medium-high heat until cooked to your liking, then leave to stand for 5 minutes before cutting into thin strips.

  • To assemble the arepas, slice each arepa crosswise about 2/3 of the way to make a pocket. Spread Tzatziki Sauce evenly in each arepa. Top with steak strips, onions and additional Tzatziki Sauce, if desired. Serve immediately.

Cooking tip

Keep a bowl of cold water nearby when preparing the arepa dough. If your hands get too sticky while kneading and forming the arepas, wet them in the cold water and continue working the dough.

Arepas and Tzatziki Sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated in separate airtight containers for up to 3 days. When ready to serve, reheat the arepas in a hot, buttered frying pan.

Bavette steak - This is cut from the flank, which makes for a fattier, but very tasty, steak. Traditionally cooked by slow braising, but cooked quickly on a high heat it’s full of flavour and tender if left to rest.