An epicurean adventure to: South Africa (with a nod to Portugal)
These easy Portuguese Prego rolls are, simply put, a flavour explosion in a bread roll. A juicy, tender steak, cooked to perfection and piled high on a partially toasted garlic roll. But wait, there's more!
This masterpiece is then topped off with a simply delicious homemade Prego sauce. A bit spicy, a bit tangy, *just* right.
Introduced by Portuguese immigrants in the mid-20th century, the Prego steak roll has become a much-beloved sandwich in South Africa. It gained fame in Johannesburg's Portuguese eateries and as a street food.
The South African version features a larger roll and spicy Prego sauce, whereas the Portuguese version is often served plain or with hot sauce and mustard. Occasionally, a fried egg is added.
The Prego steak roll has truly become an icon in South Africa's vibrant Rainbow Nation, proudly representing the rich tapestry of Portuguese flavours and cultural influence in the country's cuisine.
If you love your Portuguese food you should definitely also give Beef Trinchado a go. It's a spicy, creamy Portuguese beef stew, especially popular in South Africa.
Fast facts - South Africa
|Location||Southernmost tip of the African continent. It is bordered by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) and Lesotho.|
|Language||South Africa has 11 official languages - English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, Tswana, Pedi, Venda, Tsonga, Swati and Ndebele. English is widely spoken and is the language of business, while Zulu and Xhosa are the most commonly spoken African languages.|
|Population||Circa 60.2 million|
|Trivia||South Africa is home to the longest continuous wine route in the world, the Route 62, stretching over 850 kilometres (530 miles).|
What's to love about this recipe
- Surprise dad on Father's Day with a steak Prego roll, the perfect choice for a special steak sandwich treat.
- This recipe delivers a combination of textures and flavours in one mouth-watering sandwich.
- Takes less than 20 minutes to make.
- Everything can be made in one pan or the steak can be cooked over open flame on the barbeque.
- Add additional toppings of your liking, such as lettuce, onions, slices of tomato, herbs or cheese.
Key ingredient notes and substitutions
**Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full list of ingredients.
We use olive oil, but you can use vegetable or sunflower oil as well.
Rump steak works really well and so does sirloin or fillet.
For something a little more affordable, you can use minute steaks. Alternatively, you can cut the piece of steak in half horizontally, just make sure you use a very sharp knife.
The wine really adds to the flavour of the sauce, but if you want to make this entirely non-alcoholic, you can replace it with beef stock and a dash of Worcester sauce.
Keep in mind that the majority of the alcohol will evaporate as it cooks anyway, leaving only the flavour behind.
You will need two minced garlic cloves. Alternatively, you can use the pre-minced garlic from a tube/tub, two teaspoons worth.
Half of the garlic is used in the Prego sauce recipe, while the remaining garlic is used when toasting the cut side of the rolls.
You can use half a teaspoon of chilli flakes instead of a fresh chilli.
We use tomatoes from a can for convenience's sake, but you can use fresh tomatoes.
If you prefer fresh tomatoes you will need about three medium-sized ones (circa 150g's worth).
Don't forget to first peel the skin from the tomatoes before using it in the sauce. It helps to lightly score the skin on each tomato, then let them sit in boiled water for a few minutes. The skin comes off much easier then.
Traditionally, these sandwiches are made with soft, floury Portuguese rolls. They can be a bit hard to come by depending on where you are in the world, so use the rolls available to you.
Opt for soft rolls as they are ideal for absorbing the delicious juices from the steak and Prego sauce.
Onion marmalade or chutney
You can use the flavours of your choosing. Peach or mango chutney also works really well.
You can add a grinding of black pepper, rocket leaves, lettuce leaves, sliced onions, fresh tomatoes and even cheese to your sandwich.
How to make Prego steak rolls - Quick Summary
Step 1: Cook the steaks:
- Cook the steaks in a hot frying pan to the doneness of your liking. You can also cook the steaks over open flame on the barbeque, for extra flavour.
- Add salt and cover with foil to keep them warm. Set aside to rest.
Step 2: Make the Prego sauce:
- Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the red wine, garlic and chilli. Stir through.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and cook until the sauce is slightly reduced.
- Transfer the sauce to a bowl. Wipe out the pan with a piece of kitchen paper, there is no need to wash it first.
Step 3: Toast the bread:
- Slice the bread rolls in half horizontally.
- Heat the oil in the same frying pan. Add the garlic and stir through.
- Place the bread rolls cut side down into the oil and fry for 1-2 minutes until light golden brown and toasty.
- Spread the marmalade or chutney on the bottom halves of each roll.
Step 4: Assemble the Prego rolls:
- Place the steaks on the bottom halves of each roll.
- Top with a spoonful of the Prego sauce.
- Optional - Add lettuce, rocket leaves, sliced onion, fresh tomato slices or cheese.
- Finish off with the top halves of the rolls. Serve hot.
- If you're very short on time, you can skip making the homemade Prego sauce and use shop-bought Prego sauce instead or try peri peri sauce.
- Swap the steak sandwich for a chicken version. Beat a chicken breast with a meat tenderiser (meat mallet) until it's the thickness of a schnitzel.
Fry the chicken for slightly longer than the steak to ensure it's fully cooked.
What to serve with a Prego steak roll
- Onion rings
- Shoestring fries
- Skin-on potato wedges
- Fried eggs
These rolls are at their best served immediately. If you find yourself with leftovers, remove any fresh ingredients you may have added, like lettuce.
Wrap the rolls in foil and keep them in the fridge for up to two days. To reheat, remove the meat from the rolls and warm the steaks in a frying pan until heated throughout.
Reassemble the sandwiches and add fresh lettuce leaves.
Not suitable for freezing.
Other lunchtime recipes you might enjoy
The Portuguese Prego roll is a popular sandwich in South Africa, particularly in the city of Johannesburg. The origin of the Prego roll in South Africa is closely linked to the Portuguese immigrant community that settled in the country during the mid-20th century.
Many Portuguese immigrants came to South Africa seeking economic opportunities and they brought their culinary traditions with them. One of these traditions was the prego roll, which quickly gained popularity among South Africans of all backgrounds.
In Johannesburg, the Prego roll became a staple food item in the city's many Portuguese restaurants and cafés. It also became a popular street food, with vendors selling Prego rolls from food trucks and stalls throughout the city.
The South African version of the Prego roll is similar to the traditional Portuguese version but with some unique variations. For example, in South Africa, the Prego roll is often made with a larger, softer roll, and it is typically topped with a spicy peri-peri sauce or chutney.
Today, the Prego roll remains a beloved and iconic food item in South Africa and it is widely enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. It is considered to be a testament to the cultural and culinary diversity of the country and a symbol of the enduring influence of Portuguese cuisine in South Africa.
''Prego'' = Nail.
More lunch recipes
Prego steak rolls
For the steak
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 rump steaks - or any steak of your choosing
- salt to taste
For the Prego sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 60 millilitre red wine
- 1 garlic clove - minced
- 0.5 red chilli - finely chopped
- 150 grams chopped tomato - fresh, or from a can
For the rolls
- 2 bread rolls
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 garlic clove - minced
- 2 tablespoons onion marmalade or chutney - any flavour of your choosing
To cook the steaks
- Heat the tablespoon of olive oil over a medium-high heat in a frying pan. Add the steaks and fry until done to your liking. As a guide, 2 minutes on one side and 4 minutes on the other side will give you a medium done steak. This will depend on the thickness of the steak and the heat setting.
- Salt the steaks to taste. Set aside to rest.
To make the Prego sauce
- Heat the tablespoon of olive oil over a medium heat. Add the red wine, minced garlic and chopped chilli. Fry for 20 seconds.
- Turn the heat to low. Tip in the tomatoes and gently cook the sauce until it's slightly reduced and thickened, about 2-3 minutes.
- Transfer the sauce to a small bowl and wipe out the pan.
To toast the bread rolls
- Slice the rolls in half horizontally.
- Heat the tablespoon of olive oil over a medium high heat. Add the minced garlic and quickly stir through the oil.
- Place the four bread roll halves cut side down into the pan. Move them around to soak up all the garlicky oil. Toast until light golden brown and crispy - about 1-2 minutes.
- Spread one tablespoon of onion marmalade or chutney onto the bottom half of each roll.
Assemble the Prego rolls
- Place the two rested steaks on top of the marmalade/chutney. Top the steaks with the Prego sauce. You can add some rocket or salad leaves if you wish. Finish off with the top halves of the rolls.
**Nutritional data disclaimer**
Please keep in mind that the nutritional information provided below is calculated by a third party and we cannot guarantee the accuracy. We try our best to give you the most accurate information, but we do not take responsibility for errors that may be present. Also, the nutritional value of the recipe may change depending on the exact brands and products used. We recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalised advice on your dietary needs.