Arepas, a Latin AMerican version of the familiar corn patty, get their personality and flair from their fillings. Shrimp, pork, chicken, carne, black beans, queso -- common Colombian ingredients -- give arepas the signature tastes of Colombia's coastal and inland areas. After forming and cooking the dough, stuff arepas with your choice of precooked fillings. You can make arepas several hours ahead and stuff them before serving time. Then, heat them in a 350-degree-Fahrenheit oven until the filling is hot and steaming.
Portion equal parts masarepa cornmeal and warm water. Add the cornmeal to a mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Add a pinch or two of salt.
Add the warm water to the well in the cornmeal, stirring with a wooden spoon until a rough dough forms. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it stand for 5 minutes.
Remove the plastic wrap and knead the dough for a couple of minutes. Keep your hands moist with water to form a smooth, moist dough.
Form the dough into 3-inch-wide, 1/2- to 3/4-inch-thick disks.
Heat 1 or 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Arrange 3 or 4 arepas in the pan and cover.
Cook the arepas until golden brown on the bottom, about 6 to 8 minutes. Turn the arepas over, cover, and cook them an additional 6 to 8 minutes.
Slit the arepas horizontally and fill them with hot, prepared filling. Serve with lime wedges.
You can wrap arepa dough and store it in the refrigerator or freezer after you portion them. Use refrigerated arepa dough within 1 or 2 days. Use frozen arepa dough within 1 month for best quality.