For those of you who have read my first blog post, you'll remember that I said my husband is Portuguese. Well this has some interesting effects on some of my cooking once in a while because I try to do Portuguese style food every now and then (if I can get a hold of the ingredients that is!) which is a nice change and it's a way for the little one to learn a little bit about his heritage through food.
One problem with this is that I can never find salted cod fish. They just don't have it here. This is a major problem considering the Portuguese have over a thousand recipes just for cod and salted cod fish is the kind used in most cases (I have actually never come across a recipe for cod that wasn't salted if it's Portuguese). The other thing is that the dishes I tend to find also have quite a bit of spice to them. I don't mean salt and pepper, I mean things like Piri Piri sauce which comes from a little pepper called an 'African Devil' (African birdseye or African red devil) or Piri Piri pepper. If you know anything about peppers, in most cases the smaller they are and the redder the more heat they give off.
This doesn't cause a problem for me and the hubby as we both love spicy foods (me more so than him) , but the little one would probably grab his throat and start saying things like "it makes my neck burn!" (we've had this issue with very very very mild food where only a little bit of paprika is used). The other problem is I can only get Piri Piri peppers in the form of a sauce that I can get from the store and that's it. I've also been told that this isn't quite the same taste as the real thing but it's close enough.
Bifanas are one thing I can make that is Portuguese and it's apparently very close to being authentic. These would be marinaded sliced pork sandwiches. I even make homemade sandwich rolls to go with them!
The marinade is very easy to make. Depending on how much pork you have to work with (I had a rather small pork loin that I sliced fairly thinly) depends on how much you need to make this. Four garlic cloves smashed (I used my trusty garlic press) and about two tablespoons salt, a mound of paprika in the palm of your hand, and 3 tablespoons of chili paste (I didn't have regular chili paste so I used a Thai garlic chili sauce that worked perfect) mixed together into a paste and rubbed all over all the meat. When the pork slices are good and covered, put it in a shallow bowl and pour red wine vinegar (supposed to use white but I didn't have any so I improvised :) ) over the meat till it's just covered. Cover with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge and let it marinate over night ( at least a few hours).
Now for the sandwich rolls, I managed to find a recipe over at Food Mayhem but I changed it slightly for my own needs (I don't have a mixer so I did mine all by hand, but if you have a mixer by all means use the original recipe :) )
(adapted from a recipe found here)
~makes 16 rolls
0.25 oz. Active Dry Yeast
5 cups Warm Water, divided (110-115 degrees)
2 tbsp. White Sugar, divided
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil (plus extra for bowl)
1 tbsp. Table Salt
8-9 cups All-Purpose Flour (half white and half wheat)
1. In a mixing bowl, bloom yeast in 1/2 cup warm water and 1 tbsp. sugar. Let stand 5 minutes.
2. Add 3 cup of water and the sugar; as well as oil, salt, and 4 cups of flour. With a spoon stir the mixture together till it's all incorporated into the very wet dough. Add one cup of flour at a time, for about 4 – 4 1/2 cups, until dough pulls away from side ( I wound up using a lot more water as I kneaded the bread and added the flour because it was too dry, hence the change from the original recipe from 3 cups of water to 5). Once the dough has pulled away from the bowl pour it onto a floured surface and start kneading, approx 8-12 minutes, or till it's pliable but clean on the surface and smooth. Put back into an oiled bowl (I used olive oil because I had used the rest of the vegetable oil in the dough itself) and flip it till all the dough is covered. Put plastic wrap over the bowl and let raise for about 45minutes -1 hour.
3. Turn the dough back out onto a floured surface and punch down. Shape the dough into a rectangle then cut it into 4ths. Do the same thing with each quarter, cutting them into 4ths (or halves if you want them bigger) till you have 16 pieces (or 8 depending on how big you want them).
4. Take a piece of dough and start to tightly tuck the sides under till it makes a nice tight ball, set to the side on a lightly oiled cookie sheet, making sure there is about 2 inches between each ball. Take a pair of scissors and make a 1/4 inch deep cut in the top and then cover with a clean damp towel and let rise again for about 20 minutes, meanwhile pre-heating the oven to 400F.
5. Let them bake for about 14-16 minutes or till the top make a hollow sound when tapped. Let stand at least 5 minutes before eating.
Now back to the meat and onions that go on those wonderful rolls! Take the meat out of the refrigerator and set to the side. Slice a large onion (I used red onions) in half moons and add them to a pan with olive oil in it at about medium heat. Add in about 2 tablespoons of paprika and mix it with the onions and oil, cooking till the onions have softened and put in a separate bowl. More olive oil to the pan and turn up the heat to med-hi and add the meat and liquid to it. Cook this for just a few minutes, as it won't take long because it's sliced.
Slice the rolls in half (like a hamburger bun) and put the meat in it, adding the onions on top. No need to add mayo or any other condiments, because the juices from the meat and marinade do just fine with out it!
My hubby says the Bifanas I make with the homemade sandwich rolls remind him of home, which means I've done my job. Unfortunately for the little one, these tasty sandwiches are spicy as well, but that just means there are more for the hubby and myself :).