Almost to the point of having to order masarepa online when lo and behold I found it recently at our local Mexican/Latin American market-finally! Having never used this product before I was surprised to learn after opening up the bag that masarepa has almost the same look and texture (and taste!) as that of American grits (minus those small, dark specks in grits.) If you cannot find masarepa where you live go ahead & use grits as a substitute. You will need to grind the grits to a finer consistency with the use of a clean, dry coffee mill. The cheese is optional although highly recommended.
1Directions taken from the back package of Goya™ brand masarepa: In a mixing bowl stir together 2 cups masarepa or the finely ground grits, salt (if using) 3 cups warm water and the shredded cheese. Let set 5 minutes.
2Heat up the oil or butter a large cast iron skillet on medium heat.
3Shape the dough into 4" round circles and approximately 1/2" thick. Tip: I use a tortilla press to shape the circles.
4Fry the arepas in batches and without crowding on each side 2-3 minutes until golden brown. See aside to drain then serve.
We enjoy our arepas with any or all of the following: hot sauce/salsa or fresh tomato slices, avocado, fried egg, lettuce.