Viva Venezuela

Corn, cheeses, and vegetable salsa deliver the culinary cues in this South American country.

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Very Venezuelan ingredients

Here are some ingredients you’ll need to make our Venezuelan dishes.

Plantains: Latin American recipes use plantains at three different levels of ripeness: Verde, or green, are firm and starchy and used to make dumplings; pintón are sweet and yellow with some black spots and work perfectly for sautéing; and pasado are black, very soft and sweet, and are roasted or mashed in desserts.

Arepa flour: Also called masarepa, harina precocida, or masa al instante, this is made from finely ground, precooked corn and used to prepare dumplings and fritters in addition to arepas. You can find it in most Hispanic markets and on the Latin/ethnic-food aisle of some supermarkets. Be sure not to substitute the easier-to-find masa harina, a Mexican product used to make tortillas and tamales―your arepas won’t taste quite right.

Chayote: Also known as the mirliton or vegetable pear, this wrinkled, pear-shaped vegetable is used raw in salads or cooked a variety of ways throughout Latin and South America. It can be found at many supermarkets, often near the mangoes and other tropical produce. Look for heavy chayotes that are uniformly bright green, with no brown spots or blemishes; store up to one week in a zip-top plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Cheese: Venezuelan cooks commonly use European cheeses like Edam, Gouda, and Parmesan, which you can find in any supermarket. While we use many of the more common European and American cheeses in our recipes, we find the Latin versions worth procuring for more authentic results. Mexican Oaxaca cheese has a texture and stringiness like mozzarella, and queso fresco, “fresh cheese” in Spanish, is a mild crumbling cheese. You’ll likely find both in Latin groceries or large supermarkets.

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