Tripe is one of those strange foods that we have all heard of, but very few could actually describe what it is. Tripe is very rarely found in western restaurant menus and is not even that easy to find in local supermarkets. Considered a food of the past, tripe definitely has suffered from some bad press over the years. That looks set to change, however, with nutritional experts now questioning whether it has the potential to be a superfood.
So, what exactly is tripe, and how can you cook it? Let's find out.
What Exactly Is Tripe?
Tripe is the edible muscle lining from the stomach of farm animals, such as cows, pigs, and sheep. While it might not sound like the most appetizing part of the animal to eat, tripe is actually one of the healthiest ways to eat meat. Tripe is extremely low in calories when compared to other cuts of beef and pork, with a 150-gram serving containing only 135 calories on average. Tripe is also a great source of vitamin B12, iron, calcium, and protein.
Despite its lack of popularity, most countries have their own traditional way of cooking tripe, ranging from tripe stews in China to Haggis, the well known but often avoided Scottish dish. Tripe is an acquired taste, with its chewy texture and a rather bland flavor.
The mild flavor profile of tripe actually works to its benefit, however, allowing it to easily take on the flavors of the other ingredients that it is cooked with. This makes it perfect for padding out sausages or using in stews with a rich stock. Its lack of distinct flavor makes it extremely versatile and is probably one of the reasons that it can be found in cuisines from around the world throughout history.
Beef tripe is slightly special in that there are four different varieties, with each one coming from a different stomach chamber within the cow. Blanket tripe comes from the first stomach chamber and is generally considered to be the worst type of tripe. Blanket tripe is rarely used for human consumption and is commonly used in dog food.
Honeycomb tripe is taken from the second chamber and has a much meatier flavor; making it the most commonly used beef tripe in human recipes.
Omasum tripe offers a balance between the previous two types of tripe and is perfect for making sausages and other recipes where texture is not so important.
The tripe found in the fourth chamber, abomasums tripe, is the most flavorful, making it ideal for dishes where tripe is one of the main ingredients.
Let’s take a look at a traditional tripe recipe.
How to Cook Tripe
Preparing your Tripe:
Before you start actually cooking with tripe, it is important to ensure that it has been prepared properly. A good butcher will have already done this, but it is always worth double-checking.
The first thing you are going to want to do is to trim off any extra parts that do not look edible. You then need to rinse your tripe in cold water, as this helps to remove any grit or impurities from the meat. Repeat this step until you are happy that the surface of the meat is clean.
The next step is to place your tripe in a pan with cold water and allow it to reach a boil slowly. This ensures that all impurities have been removed from the meat and that it is safe to eat.
Tripe and Onions
Tripe used to be a common sight at local markets in Yorkshire, and while it may no longer be at the top of most people's bucket list when visiting the UK, it still remains a popular dish among the locals. Tripe and onions is a traditional Yorkshire recipe and one that is easy to recreate at home.
The prep for this dish is super simple, simply cut your tripe into chunks and place in a saucepan with chopped onions and a 50/50 split of water and milk to cover. Once it comes to a boil, you can then leave it to cook on medium heat for an hour.
While this is cooking, combine equal parts butter and flour in a bowl until they become one.
After an hour, your tripe should be soft enough for a fork to easily go all of the ways through, and you are ready to stir your flour, butter mixture in. Stir until the mixture is completely incorporated with the rest of the dish.
Transfer to an oven-safe dish and cook for a further half an hour. As an added extra, you can sprinkle a layer of grated cheese on the top during the last 5 minutes of cooking for extra creamy texture.
Once the cheese has melted, remove from the oven, and serve!
Tripe is a diverse meat and one that you can really have some fun trying out different recipes with. Why not try cooking with tripe yourself and see what exciting dishes you can create.