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Portugese bifana ­­— a Lisbon street food classic

Updated: May 5, 2023

The bifana is easy to prepare and tastier than you’d think given its short ingredients list. Marinated in a mix of white wine, paprika, olive oil, and lots of garlic, thin slices of pork steak are wedged between tasty bread. Creating one of Portugal’s favourite 'working man' sandwiches. Serve with a cold beer.

A bun with pork
Portugese bifana ­­— a Lisbon street food classic

The story

The exact origin of the traditional bifana recipe is unknown but it’s likely that the sandwich first appeared around the time when red paprika (one of the most important ingredients) was first imported, around the 16th century.

In the north, the steaks are simmered in a spicy broth that is usually drizzled on the bread roll. It is occasionally accompanied by sautéed onions. In Lisbon, the meat is sometimes marinated and grilled, while mustard is a common accompaniment in Lisbon and in the south of Portugal.


The recipe


400g pork loin, skin removed and cut into 3mm slices

2 brown onions, peeled, halved and thickly sliced (optional)

4 white crusty bread rolls


For the Marinade

1tsp of sweet paprika

2 tablespoons piri-piri sauce

1/2 tsp red chilli flakes

3 crushed garlic cloves

2 bay leaves

200ml white wine

1/4 cup white vinegar

salt and black pepper to taste


Tenderise pork cutlets with a meat tenderiser or a rolling pin. Place in bowl and and add the marinade ingredients. Cover and refridgerate for at least 4 hours or ideally overnight.

Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add olive oil. Fry pork, keeping the marinade aside. Once the oils start bubbling (about 5-8 minutes) flip the pork and add the marinade. Let the sauce reduce.

In a separate frypan, fry the onions until softened and caramelised.

Serve the pork with the onions in soft white rolls with sweet mustard.

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