If you’re a fan of European street food, you’ll surely love bifana. Bifanas are not only one of Portugal’s most famous street food snacks but they’re a matter of national pride. Many cities around Portugal claim that they’re home to the best bifana you can ever find. And most of them make strong arguments but in this post, we’ll share our bifana recipe with you so that you can prepare this delicious snack from the comfort of your home and teach you everything you need to know about bifana along the way.
What is Bifana?
To answer this in the simplest way possible, Bifana is a type of sandwich, normally made with Papo Seco (a type of Bun native to Portugal) and thin paprika-flavored, marinated pork slices. It’s one of the most popular street food dishes in Portugal (alongside Francesinha) and no trip to a local farmer market is complete without one of these delicious sandwiches. Bifana sandwiches are served in a tasca, small convenient eateries.
The bifana recipe is very popular across Portugal but there are different kinds of variations of this sandwich in different parts of Portugal (but more about this later).
Origins & History
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 to the Iberian Peninsula; around the 16th century.
As we all know, red paprika became an irreplaceable part of both, Portuguese and Spanish cuisines in the years that followed and this brought a lot of new exciting dishes and it’s very likely that bifana was one of them even though some variations of the sandwich (without red paprika) might have been available even prior to this.
Having in mind, that Pork was widely consumed in Portugal it’s no wonder that this Sandwich became really popular among the locals. Unofficially, the first version of the bifana recipe appeared in the town of Vendas Novas in the Alentejo region.
Bifana is very popular in Portugal and it’s no surprise that there are many slightly different variations of the bifana recipe across the country. In the northern parts of Portugal, the pork meat is shredded in very tiny pieces and is usually a bit spicier while the buns are dipped in the steak sauce. In the southern part of Portugal, on the other hand, the meat isn’t as spicy (in the southernmost parts, the meat used for bifana is not spicy at all) it has a strong taste of garlic and the buns are usually toasted. It’s likely that the non-spicy version of the bifana recipe appeared first.
What About The Sauce?
As you could probably tell from the previous paragraph, there’s no hard rule about what to do with the sauce in which you prepare the meat for your bifana. Some places even serve bifana as a simple pork-and-bread sandwich. Others add some sauce and spices in the pork or dip the top bun in the pork sauce. Some radicals might even dunk the whole sandwich in the sauce but our bifana recipe uses a more balanced approach.
In my opinion, the secret of a good bifana is to not reduce the sauce. Most places in Portugal that serve bifana let the meat simmer in the skillet throughout the day, and when they start running out of meat, they add more. And that’s exactly why the bifanas you buy out are (more often than not) tastier than the one you’d make at home.
So, if you decide to try our bifana recipe, don’t overboil the pork sauce or spill it once you’re done. Instead, place it in a container, refrigerate it (or freeze it), and use it next time you make bifana. You’ll thank me later.
Bifana is usually consumed as a snack and most locals eat it alongside a glass of cold beer, preferably SuperBock. You can always find other ways to eat this sandwich but if you want to enjoy bifana the way locals do, this is the way to go. ANd if you have the sweet tooth, you can also round up your meal with a delicious sweet pastry like pastel de nata.
Best Places To Get A Bifana
It’s said that the original bifana recipe originates from Vendas Nova and there are some great places to try Bifana in this town. My personal favorite was the bifana in Café Boavista but you can also get some delicious bifanas at A Chamine.
If you’re visiting Porto, you can also get some tasty bifanas at Conga or at some of the roadside eateries near farmer markets. You can also get some amazing bifanas in Lisbon too. A couple of places that come to mind include Beira Gare and O Trevo.
A Few Things You Might Need
- 4 bread rolls or Papo Seco
- 4 Pork Chops (350gr)
- 4 Garlic Cloves (crushed)
- 3 Bay Leaves
- 1/2 Tablespoon Red Paprika
- 1 Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes (grounded)
- 100 Ml of Dry white wine/ Lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon of Salt
- 1 Tablespoon of Black Pepper
- 1/2 Tablespoon of Butter
- 2 Tablespoons of Lard (for frying)
- 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil Mustard
- 1 Tablespoon of Mustard
1. Crush the bay leaves and the garlic cloves.
2. Place them in a bowl and add the spices (red paprika, chili flakes, salt, and black pepper), lemon juice, and wine.
3. Stir everything well and lay the pork cutlets inside the bowl.
4. Let the mix marinate for 2-3 hrs inside a refrigerator
5. Preheat your skillet/pan with a 1tbsp lard in normal heat.
6. Drain the pork cutlets from the marinade and add them in the pan/skillet.
7. While the cutlet is frying, cook the marinade in normal heat for 7-8 mins to use as a dipping sauce.
8. Take 3-4 tbsp of the marinade in a pan and soak the bread on it for some extra flavor.
7. Fill the bread with the Pork Chop/ Cutlets and use some mustard as a topping.
You should marinate the meat for at least three hours as specified in this recipe, but if possible, try to leave the meat in the fridge overnight. This will make your bifana sandwich a lot tastier.
Serving Size:1 Sandwich
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 396Total Fat: 68gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1.2gCholesterol: 113mgSodium: 372mgCarbohydrates: 32gNet Carbohydrates: 32gFiber: 2.2gSugar: 1.1gProtein: 46g
Did you ever try bifana? How did you like our bifana recipe? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments and you tried the recipe, don’t forget to leave us a rating.
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