Arepas de choclo. Arepa de queso. Chuzo de pollo. Patacon con carne desmechada.
Every country seems to have a way to do this. From schnitzel in Europe to katsu in Japan, what’s not to like about crispy fried meat. What we love about the Colombian version is the flavorful marinade that gives the meat a distinctive taste to go along with the crunch. We pounded our boneless pork chops thin and marinated them in onion, garlic, scallion and cumin (of course) overnight. The flour is mixed with Goya Sazon, a ubiquitous ingredient in Colombian cooking, which we just discovered, and is pretty much pure MSG. We had some panko on hand from a past Japanese week and this made it extra crispy and light.
I’ve loved arepas de choclo since the first time I tried the sweet, buttery corn cakes on a street corner, late at night, in Jackson Heights, Queens, from The Arepa Lady. It was always a special treat to find her and wait on the often long line while each arepa was made to order.
Besides tasting delicious, the interesting thing about this dish is its similarity to other cuisines. It’s very close to one of my favorite middle eastern recipes M’sakhan. It may be the cumin, used in nearly every Colombian recipe, that gives it that mid-eastern flavor profile. Whether there’s a historic connection or not, it’s a really good recipe that we highly recommend you try. The sweetness of the onions creates a sauce that is perfect for soaking up with mashed potatoes – a Colombian favorite.
Here’s the recipe we used.
This easy and tasty stewed chicken dish is perfect for a weeknight dinner.
Breakfast Explorer continues with a Colombian take on the egg and cheese sandwich. Simple to make, it’s got all the breakfast food groups except bacon, but we think it would be good with some of that thrown in too!
You can find a recipe for it here.
We didn’t have many ingredients in the house so this recipe is a true “pantry” dish. A can of chickpeas, some tomato paste and ground beef from the freezer are the main ingredients. Cumin is the main flavoring, and this seems to be a crucial spice for many Colombian recipes. It was a tasty and simple recipe that is really easy to throw together. We got the recipe from the My Columbian Recipes food blog. Our only deviation was to squeeze some lime juice over it at the table, which added some brightness, and a good bit of Calypso hot sauce left over from Trinidad week.
I love all kinds of empanadas, but I’m partial to the unique, corn dough empanadas from Colombia. On my old block off of 82nd Street in Jackson Heights/Elmhurst, Queens, I would walk past at least five Colombian bakeries on my way home. And that was just one block. I miss that walk, and all of the delicious snack options.