Arepas with Octopus and Lobster Salad

Total Time:
3 hr
1 hr 30 min
1 hr 30 min

6 to 8 servings

  • Salad:
  • 2 quarts red wine vinegar
  • 4 Spanish onions, roughly chopped
  • 4 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 head celery, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • Handful thyme sprigs
  • 2 whole octopus, about 6 pounds each, webbing cut between the tentacles
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lobster, about 1 1/4 pounds
  • 4 yellow bell peppers, roasted and peeled
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons honey
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 to 1 whole habanero, seeded and finely diced
  • Arepas:
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups white arepa flour (precooked cornmeal)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated cotija cheese
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Vegetable or canola oil, for cooking
  • To make the salad:
Watch how to make this recipe. To make the salad:
  • Fill a large pot with 3 gallons 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 hour.

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

  • Puree the peppers in a blender with the lemon juice, paprika, 1 teaspoon honey and some salt and pepper. Taste, and add more honey if you like, and salt or pepper.

  • 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.

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

To make the arepas:
  • Bring milk to a simmer in a small saucepan, then remove from heat and stir in butter.

  • Combine arepa flour, salt, pepper and cotija 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 minutes (dough will continue to stiffen).

  • Form the dough into 12 balls (about 2 inches in diameter) and flatten between palms into 3 1/2 to 4-inch patties (about 1/3-inch thick).

  • Heat 2 tablespoons 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 minutes per side; transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels.

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

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