It’s rare we meet a sandwich we don’t like – as a snack concept, bread wrapped around all kinds of fillers can hardly be faulted. Choripan, the chorizo sandwich hailing from Latin America, is no exception.
Think of choripan as a kind of next-level Argentinian/Uruguayan hot dog. If you know Spanish, the name choripan will be relatively easy to decipher, it’s a combination of Spanish words – ‘chori’ (short for chorizo, a Spanish sausage made from pork) and pan (the Spanish word for bread). And when it comes to sandwiches or rolls, choripan are up there with the best – juicy, spicy chorizo enveloped in a warm, crusty baguette and topped with zesty chimichurri sauce is the stuff of street food dreams.
“It’s a real barbecue food in Argentina,” Elvis Abrahanowicz of Sydney-based, Argentinian-inspired restaurant Porteño tells SBS.“You can eat it with one hand while you’re cooking with the other. Choripan is normally eaten at home or at someone else’s house when the barbecue starts up – someone hands you a sandwich to snack on while the sausages and offal are cooking.”
According to Abrahowicz, the key to a flavoursome, juicy choripan is butterflying the sausage over a charcoal grill. “That’s the proper technique,” he says. “Butterfly the sausage as it’s cooking, then butterfly the bread roll too and place it on top of the sausage so it soaks up all the smoke and all the fat – then go to town with garlic, onions, and chimichurri.”
In the streets of Argentinia's capital Buenos Aires, you’ll find taxi drivers gathering around open-air food cart grills at lunchtime hankering for a quick, hearty fix. It's also hugely popular in Uruguay. In Australia, though, choripan is a little harder to come by. In Brisbane, the first port of call for authentic choripan made with a twist is The South American Grill, where Gary Rodriguez fields requests for his innovative brand of Latin American cuisine daily. Rodriguez tells SBS that while the sandwiches are popular, the real choripan craze is yet to come.
“It’s a really popular offering, as we also provide free chimichurri, which is made in-house,” he says. “The German sausage concept has been in full swing in Brisbane for some time now, but as Latin flavours make their way around the city people are becoming more receptive to different sausage varieties. The Mexican craze has really opened the doors for future developments in the industry.”
In Sydney, you’ll find mobile food trucks like Caminito cooking choripan as a street food snack for around $7-$10 per sandwich. A variety of choripans sit alongside other Latin American offerings, like Morcilla Al Pan (Spanish black pudding sausage and freshly baked bread) and Chivito (a Uruguayan-style steak sandwich). But, as Abrahanowicz tells SBS, it’s hardly a restaurant menu item. This isn’t unusual – it’s not commonly found in restaurants in Argentina or other Latin American countries either. But what we’re quietly hoping for is an influx of choripan vendors at weekend markets and music festivals around the country.
“I’m not sure why choripan hasn’t taken off in Australia yet. Maybe people don’t want bad breath after eating garlic and onions,” laughs Abrahanowicz. “Or maybe Australians aren’t used to proper chorizo – it’s quite coarse, fatty and rich. I’d love to walk down the street and see food carts peddling choripan, but in Australia we’re not allowed to have open charcoal barbecues, so that’s probably a little way off.”
In the meantime, track down Caminito for a $10 choripan rojo gourmet – paprika-infused sausage, Spanish onion, sliced tomatoes and fresh rocket, or make your own with our recipe here:
We send Sydney chef Elvis Abrahanowicz - of Bodega and Porteño - to his hometown of Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he investigates the city's burgeoning scene of hidden kitchens.
Some people will say that empanadas are meat pies but they are not. There is no gravy inside the pastry, but nor is it dry. The pastry can be bought, but the secret is how to make the filling to be authentically Argentinian. Here, Norberto Spagnolo, from Adelaide's Buenos Aires Brasserie, teaches us how. Serve warm from the oven as appetisers or cold as part of a picnic spread.