My favorite childhood snack is…. scratch that. My all time favorite snack is my mommy’s bifteak or bufteak. This is Egypt’s version of chicken fried steak. My mommy always makes this for us when we are travelling, arriving from travel, or a quick late night snack. Basically, she makes it all the time. Usually she intends for it to make it to the dinner table, but with all of us back and forth into her kitchen, the plate never quite makes it there.
My sister and I used to take the bifteak, put ketchup on it, slice up a dill pickle and put it in a pita pocket. My mother used to cringe at the sight of the ketchup with the beloved bifteak. Nowadays, with our adult palettes, we no longer reach for the ketchup. Instead, I make these into nice sandwiches with a slather of labne (Lebanese strained yogurt), sliced cucumbers and tomato. Much more of an “adult” sandwich!
Also, most people make bifteak with veal (Heba’s version) . We always opt for using the already thin sliced beef that is sold at the stores. It requires minimal tenderizing, and is pretty dirt cheap. It is always best to marinate the beef for as long as you can (overnight is ideal), but in a quick fix, a 15 minute marinade while you prepare the ingredients will do just fine. I also found that panko crumbs keep the crust crispy, although any traditional bread crumbs will work as well (they just may get soggy quicker).
Panko Crusted Steak Sandwiches (Bifteak or Bufteak)
Prep Time: 15 minutes (plus 30 minutes for marinating if time permits)
Cook Time: 10 minutes
6 pieces of thinly sliced beef (usually eye round, also called sandwich steak)
1/2 yellow onion
1 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup of panko crumbs
1/2 cup of flour
1/2 cup of virgin olive oil
handful of chopped parsley
(1) In a food processor, grind the onion until it is liquefied. Put aside.
(2) On a flat surface, lay out a long piece of saran wrap. Place one of the steaks in the middle. Fold the saran wrap over it, and pound the beef with a tenderizer (or the back of a ladle). Repeat for the rest of the steaks.
(3) Place the now pounded thin steaks in a bowl with the onion and the cumin, pepper, salt, garlic powder and some of the chopped parsley. Let marinate for at least 15-20 minutes. Place in the fridge if you plan to marinate for longer.
(4) While the meat is marinating, clean the workspace and set out three bowls and a flat plate. In the first bowl, place the two eggs and scramble the eggs well. In the second bowl, place the flour. In the third bowl, place the panko crumbs. Place the remainder of the chopped parsley into the panko and mix well.
(5) Take one steak and place it in the egg mixture. Let the excess egg drip off. Now place the same steak in the flour. Then move the steak to the panko. Make sure that the panko coats all parts of the beef. Set aside on the flat plate.
(6) Repeat for the rest of the steaks.
(7) In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Throw a small piece of the panko in the pan to see if it sizzles. When it does, the oil is ready. Place a few of the steaks into the pan, but be careful to not overcrowd the pan.
(8) Because the meat is thin, it should not take long to cook. Watch carefully to make sure that the panko does not burn. The beef should cook in about 5 to 8 minutes per side.
(9) Place the beef in a small pita with the toppings of your choice and enjoy!