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What Is Tripe?
Tripe is a type of offal or organ meat. Tripe comes from the stomach of a ruminant—any animal that chews cud. The most commonly available type of tripe is beef tripe, which comes from a cow's stomach. Tripe is classified according to which stomach chamber it came from:
- Blanket tripe (aka flat tripe) comes from the rumen (aka first stomach or paunch), which is the largest stomach compartment. Blanket tripe is also known as plain tripe, ridged tripe, and thick-seam tripe.
- Honeycomb tripe comes from the stomach lining of the reticulum (the second stomach) and is often attached to book tripe. It is more tender than blanket tripe and has a honeycomb texture.
- Book tripe comes from the omasum or psalterium compartment of the stomach and is also known as leaf tripe or bible tripe due to its page-like texture.
- Reed tripe comes from the abomasum or true glandular stomach of the ruminant. It is the least common in cooking.
What Does Tripe Taste Like?
Tripe contains little fat and most of its flavor comes from the surrounding organs, giving it a mild liver-like flavor. Tripe is mostly valued for its chewy texture—it is made up of smooth muscle and lots of connective tissue. If undercooked, tripe can be very tough. Properly cooked, tripe should be tender but still have a bit of chew.
How to Prepare and Cook Tripe
When you buy tripe from a butcher, it has likely already gone through a process of dressing which may include soaking in brine, bleaching, and boiling. If you buy this type of par-boiled tripe, you should prepare it further at home before cooking. Scrub tripe with rock salt and vinegar to remove impurities. Soak tripe in cold water for five to 10 minutes, then rinse it and cut it into pieces. Add the tripe to a large pot of water and poach until tender, about one to two hours.
8 Traditional Tripe Dishes
Well-known tripe recipes include:
- Menudo: Known for its hangover-curing properties, this Mexican tripe soup includes hominy, tomatoes, Mexican oregano, and bay leaf. When made with a sheep stomach, it's known as pancita. (Despite the similar name, tripas—a type of offal commonly used for tacos—are actually beef intestines, not stomach.)
- Pho: This Vietnamese noodle soup sometimes includes the addition of cooked beef tripe.
- Sopa de mondongo: This Caribbean and South American tripe stew can feature a variety of vegetables and herbs, depending on the region. The tripe is sometimes soaked in citrus juice before cooking.
- Trippa alla romana: This Italian tripe dish features tomato sauce and grated parmesan.
- Callos: Callos is a Spanish tripe stew made with chorizo and chickpeas.
- Kare-kare: This Filipino oxtail and peanut stew often includes tripe.
- Tripe stir-fry: After boiling tripe, use this Chinese cooking technique to make stir-fried tripe with garlic, ginger, and scallions.
- Sausage: Many sausages, including French andouille and your typical breakfast sausage, include tripe as part of the meat mix.