Arepas with Octopus and Lobster Salad

  • Level: Advanced
  • Total: 3 hr
  • Prep: 1 hr 30 min
  • Cook: 1 hr 30 min
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings
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Ingredients

Salad:

2 quarts red wine vinegar

4 Spanish onions, roughly chopped

4 carrots, roughly chopped

1 head celery, roughly chopped

3 tablespoons black peppercorns

2 whole octopus, about 6 pounds each, webbing cut between the tentacles

Handful thyme sprigs

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

Directions

  1. 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.
  2. 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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