How To Make Pica Pau: A Delicious Taste of Portuguese

Pica Pau is a tasty dish from Portugal. It’s made with thinly sliced beef or pork cooked with garlic, olive oil, and pickles. People love it because you can have it as a starter or a main meal.

Historically, Pica Pau started in local kitchens and taverns in Portugal. It was a simple dish enjoyed by workers and travelers looking for a filling meal. Over time, it became really popular for its yummy flavors and how it brings people together to enjoy good food.

Today, Pica Pau is still a favorite in Portugal, showing how important food and sharing meals are in Portuguese culture.

Historical Background of Pica Pau

Pica Pau has been a part of Portuguese cooking for a long time. It started in local taverns and homes as a simple meal for workers and travelers. As time passed, it became a popular dish in Portuguese culture, known for its great taste and how it brings people together to enjoy food.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Make the Best Pica Pau


  1. 500g beef or pork, thinly sliced
  2. 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  3. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  4. 1 onion, thinly sliced
  5. 1 bay leaf
  6. 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  7. 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  8. 1 tablespoon mustard
  9. Salt and pepper to taste
  10. Pickles (optional, for serving)
  11. Fresh parsley, chopped (for garnish)


Prepare the Meat:

  • Start by thinly slicing the beef or pork into bite-sized pieces. Season with salt and pepper.

Sauté Garlic and Onion:

  • Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add minced garlic and thinly sliced onion. Sauté until golden brown and fragrant.

Cook the Meat:

  • Increase the heat to medium-high. Add the seasoned meat to the pan. Cook until browned on all sides, stirring occasionally.

Add Flavor:

  • Reduce the heat to medium. Add bay leaf, white wine vinegar, soy sauce, and mustard to the pan. Stir well to combine all ingredients.

Simmer and Tenderize:

  • Cover the pan and let the meat simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until tender. Stir occasionally to ensure even cooking.

Adjust Seasoning:

  • Taste the Pica Pau and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Remove bay leaf before serving.


  • Transfer the Pica Pau to a serving dish. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and serve hot, accompanied by pickles if desired.


Pica Pau is more than just a dish in Portuguese cuisine; it represents a tradition of flavor, community, and culinary heritage. From its beginnings in local taverns to its status as a beloved favorite across Portugal, Pica Pau continues to charm with its savory blend of ingredients and its ability to bring people together over a shared meal. Whether enjoyed as an appetizer or main course, Pica Pau reflects the warmth and richness of Portuguese culture, inviting all who taste it to savor not just its delicious flavors, but also the spirit of tradition and togetherness it embodies.

Explore the flavors of Pica Pau and experience firsthand the cultural richness it celebrates, inviting you to enjoy the simple pleasures of good food and shared moments around the table.


What does “Pica Pau” mean in Portuguese?

“Pica Pau” translates to “woodpecker” in English. The dish is named after this bird due to its savory and often tangy flavors, similar to the taste of the dish.

Is Pica Pau spicy?

Pica Pau can vary in spiciness depending on the recipe and personal preference. Some versions include spicy elements like chili peppers or hot sauces, while others are milder. It’s often customizable to suit different spice levels.

What are the typical side dishes served with Pica Pau?

Common side dishes served with Pica Pau include rice, fries, or bread to soak up the flavorful sauce. Additionally, a side salad or steamed vegetables complement the dish well.

Can Pica Pau be made vegetarian?

While traditional Pica Pau includes meat, vegetarian versions can be created using plant-based alternatives like tofu or seitan. These substitutes absorb the marinade flavors well and offer a delicious meat-free option.

Where can I find authentic Pica Pau in Portugal?

Authentic Pica Pau can be found in traditional Portuguese restaurants and taverns across the country, particularly in regions known for their culinary heritage like Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve. Locals often have favorite spots known for their exceptional Pica Pau dishes.

Leave a comment