• Tuna francesinha (Portuguese cheese toastie) (Benito Martin)Source: Benito Martin

This is an ode to the famed sandwich of Lisbon. It’s typically filled with steak and ham, covered in melted cheese and smothered in a spicy tomato and beer sauce. 






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Our version, made with the addition of tuna will have traditionalists up in arms, but tuna-melt fans rejoicing - this is essentially everything you love about a cheese toastie, quadrupled. This has comfort brunch written all over it.


  • 2 x 100 g veal steaks, flattened to 5 mm thick
  • ½ loaf white bread, cut into four 1.5 cm-thick slices
  • softened butter, for spreading
  • 2 x 125 g Sirena Tuna Slices in Chilli Oil
  • 2 thick slices good-quality ham off the bone
  • 4-6 thin slices good-quality cheddar cheese
  • Lebanese pickled peppers, to serve


Francesinha sauce

  • 150 g speck, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • ½ brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 250 ml (1 cup) lager beer
  • 400 ml tomato passata
  • 250 ml (1 cup) water
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes


Batatas fritas (fries)

  • 1 large, long, skinny potato, skin on
  • vegetable oil for deep-frying
  • 1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


  1. Season the veal steak with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Trim the veal steak into two squares the same size as the bread. Roughly chop any off-cuts.

  2. For the sauce, place the speck in a large deep-sided frying pan and warm over medium-high heat. Cook until the fat has rendered and the speck is nicely crisp. Remove the speck from the pan and set aside but leave the fat in the pan.

  3. Pan-fry the veal Return the pan to medium-high heat, add the veal steaks in the same pan and cook for 1 minute each side until just cooked through. Remove from the pan and keep warm.

  4. Brown the veal off-cuts In the same pan, add the veal off-cuts and cook until nicely browned - you want to get some nice caramelisation on these as they will be used for your sauce base. Push the veal to one side of the pan.

  5. Add the butter and allow to melt. Add the onion and bay leaf, season with sea salt, and cook for 2 minutes or until fragrant, the onion has softened and darkened on the edges. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

  6. Return the speck to the pan, add the beer and bring to the boil, scraping up any cooked-on bits. Continue to boil until almost evaporated. Add the passata, water and chilli flakes, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes - it should change to a deep red colour. Strain the sauce, discarding the solids, and keep the sauce warm.

  7. For the fries, julienne the potato into short matchstick-sized fries. Spread out on a tray lined with paper towel, cover with more paper towel and dry as much as possible. Heat the vegetable oil in a large deep-sided saucepan to 180C. Add the fries, in batches, and cook until nicely golden and crisp. Drain well on paper towel. Toss well in the parsley, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Keep warm.

  8. Butter the outside of the bread slices. Arrange the tuna on the non-buttered sides, on half of the slices, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then arrange the ham (trimming to fit) and pan-fried veal steaks on top, then sandwich with the remaining slices, buttered-side up.

  9. Preheat the grill to high. Heat a large ovenproof frying pan over medium-high heat or a sandwich press on high, add the sandwiches and cook on each side for 1-2 minutes or until nicely toasted. Remove from the heat.

  10. Arrange the cheese slices on top of each sandwich, allowing them to overlap and overhang the sandwich by 1 cm (trimming if necessary) - they will melt over the sides. Place the pan under the grill and toast until the cheese has melted.

  11. Serve Pour the sauce into individual serving plates with a shallow lip. Carefully transfer the sandwiches to on top of the sauce. Serve with the fries on top and pickles on the side.


Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Tammi Kwok. Creative concept by Belinda So.


Australians have been enjoying the unrivalled taste and quality of SIRENA tuna since 1956. Sirena tuna is made only with the highest quality ingredients, including our premium oil blends and high specification tuna. All of Sirena's tuna products are delicious, healthy, suitable for different moments of your day, and can be enjoyed on their own or as an ingredient in meals. For more recipes from our SBS collection of SIRENA tuna recipes, go here