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Cooking with Pedro J Torres

Pedro J Torres HeadshotPedro J Torres is a passionate fan and consumer of traditional Venezuelan foods. Whether he is making an arepa or an empanada, Mr. Torres enjoys cooking and exploring the cuisine of his home country.

It all began as a boy, he would help his Abuela prepare dishes.  Pedro J Torres would help her soak the maize grains, peel them, and ground the grains in a large mortar known as a pilón to help make the dough for the arepa.

Typically in eastern Venezuela, the most common variety of an arepa is usually between three to eight inches wide and 3/4 inch of an inch think.

Pedro J Torres was fond of larger arepas, which are made with either white or yellow maize.  A filled arepa is called an arepa rellena or a Venezuelan tostada.

Pedro Torres Cilierto is also fond of empanadas, which use corn flour dough and are fried in oil. The stuffing varies but commonly are white cheese, shredded chicken or beef.

Other types use fish, red bell peppers, caraotas, guiso, llanero, tomatoes, onions, garlic, olives, red wine, panela, and Worcestershire sauce. Oysters, shrimp, clams, and other types of seafood are also used as fillings in the coastal areas.

An empanada filled with meat, black beans and fried ripe plantains is called empanada de pabellón.  When the empanada is sliced open after deep frying, and fixed with added fillings, it is called an empanada operada.

The empanadas are eaten at any time of the day, but are usually consumed as a breakfast, and are frequently served with hot sauce.  In order to distinguish the types of empanadas in Venezuela, it is common to call those made with a wheat flour-based dough (or pastry) and baked empanada Chilena; Venezuelan empanadas are made with a corn flour-based dough.