Black Bean Arepas with Mango and Aji

This Caribbean pepper is famous for being the hottest chile pepper in the world. They come in a variety of shapes and colors (yellow, orange, green, red, chocolate). Not only are they extremely hot, but they also have a unique, distinctively fruity flavor. It is the key ingredient in the popular Jamaican Jerk sauce. The habanero is also widely used in many different types of hot sauces. The popularity of this chile pepper continues to grow and is becoming easier to find on the grocery shelf.

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Serves: 8 arepas (4 servings)


1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cups white vinegar
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 red onion, thinly sliced

1 bunch fresh cilantro
2 habaneros, stems removed
The juice of 2 limes
½ cup sliced green onion
½ cup water
salt and pepper

1 Tablespoon avocado or olive oil
½ yellow onion, diced
1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper

2 cups Harina PAN or masarepa
2 cups warm water
½ cup ricotta cheese
vegetable oil for frying

2 mangos, peeled and diced
2 avocados, cut into slices
cotija cheese or queso fresco, crumbled


FOR THE PICKLED ONION Stir together vinegars, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Add onion and give a good stir. Let sit for 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.

FOR THE AJI Meanwhile, combine cilantro (with stems), habaneros (with seeds), lime juice, green onion, and water in a blender. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Let rest for at least 2 hours, stirring once.

FOR THE BEANS When pickled onions and aji are almost ready, heat the oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add yellow onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and stir to combine. Add paprika, turmeric, and oregano and cook one minute to toast spices. Stir in beans and cook until heated, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

FOR THE AREPAS Mix together Harina PAN, water, and ricotta cheese in a large bowl with your hands until well combined. Knead a bit to form a cohesive dough. Divide dough into 8 equal portions and pat into ¾” thick round cakes.
Fill a skillet ⅛” high with vegetable oil. Heat oil until very hot. 4 at a time, fry arepas in oil and cook about 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and crisp on both sides. Set aside and keep warm in a clean towel.

PUT IT ALL TOGETHER Place 2 arepas on each of 4 plates. Top with beans, pickled onion, avocado, cotija, mango, and drizzle with aji.