Just like most internal organs of animals, tripe is something many people shun away as food. To many Asians, however, whether resident in Asia or North America or elsewhere, animal internal organs like liver, heart, lung, gizzard, tripe etc are all edible and they constitute some of the food consumed regularly. It is a pity that ‘soul food’ is noteaten by all Americans; the average American does not know what he or she misses.
All meat (be it the muscle or flesh meat or the entrails and other internal organs) can be taken as food providing one knows how to cook them the correct and proper way to ensure hygiene, wholesomeness and tastiness.
That said, it is of course expedient not to take in too much of the food as many internal organs contain quite a good amount of cholesterol
This article suggests ways of cooking two types of tripe, beef tripe and pig tripe.
1. COOKING BEEF TRIPE SOUP
(a) Preparing and cooking the tripe. It is not difficult to obtain cow tripe from a local market in Asia; in North America the tripe could come in pre-boiled form, ready-packed for your cooking. Suppose you get hold of beef tripe fresh from the local butcher (perhaps uncommon in the West). You need to wash it very thoroughly, first in running water, then by soaking it in salt for sometime or in lime or vinegar water, taking care to remove blemished marks and parts of the tripe that appear unclean or unwholesome.
Be generous when scraping or cutting off those portions that look suspicious to your eyes – better play safe than be sorry. After that, marinate the tripe with salt for about 30 minutes. At the end of 30 minutes, rinse off the salt, and place the tripe in a pot filled with water, submerging fully the tripe.
Add in several big slices of ginger and 2 bulbs of garlic and boil for about 15 minutes over medium flame. This process ensures that your tripe becomes softer or at least soft enough to allow your ordinary kitchen knife to cut it.
(b) Preparing the soup. In a separate pot (porcelain or clay-pot would be ideal, but it must be able to withstand high temperatures), pour in water, add slices of ginger and boil over medium flame.
When the water boils, add in 1-2 bulbs of garlic, followed by cinnamon sticks and some star anise. The softened tripe from (a) above can now be added to the boiling water.
Add in 2-3 spoons of black soybean sauce, enough salt to taste, and let the soup simmer for sometime( close to 2 hours is fine) to let the ingredients mix and blend well, before taking out the tripe.
When it is cool, cut the tripe into pieces or strips of about 3 cm length and put the sliced tripe pieces back into the simmering soup.
(c) Serving. You can now take out the tripe pieces and place them in a bowl. Scoop generous amount of soup into it. Add in mint leaves, cinnamon sticks, sliced onions, shallots and celery or bean sprouts as you like. To give it extra spicy flavour, you could add dashes of pepper and chili powder. It is now ready for your enjoyment.
2. COOKING PIG TRIPE.
(a) Preparing pig tripe. Just as in US, one could get cleaned pig stomach nicely packed easily in Asian markets. Of course if you insist on doing your own cleansing and treating the tripe, you could get one fresh off the butcher’s.
As in beef tripe, remove parts of the tripe you find unwholesome and unsightly. After that, it is essential to clean the tripe thoroughly over running water, followed by rubbing coarse salt onto the body of the tripe, paying special attention to the curled or wrinkled parts. It is then placed in the refrigerator for about 1 hours or so.
(b) Cooking the tripe. Into a pot deep enough for your tripe, add water and start to boil it over medium flame. Add in sufficient pieces of ginger, garlic, star anise, cinnamon sticks and pepper seeds.
Pepper seeds are absolutely essential for they will rid the tripe of its usual pre-cooking odour. When the water begins to boil, place the whole of your pig tripe (after rinsing off the coarse salt ) into the pot and let it simmer for close to 2 hours. This should tenderize the tripe.
(c) Serving Ideas. At the end of step (b) above, take out the tripe, cool it and then cut it into bite-sized pieces and put aside. May I suggest that you prepare separately vermicelli or other noodles which have been cooked earlier and which have been placed on platters?
Into a wok over medium flame, you now add a little oil, shredded onions, garlic and after sauteing, add your tripe pieces and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add a little soy sauce, corn-flour and sufficient water to obtain a not-too-thick paste and pour the contents of the wok into your prepared vermicelli or noodles. Done.
Alternatively if you just want to taste the pig tripe soup you could just put the cut tripe pieces back into the cooking pot and scoop out its contents, adding spices like chili or pepper powder to taste and the leaves mentioned in cooking beef tripe above – to give it extra aroma.
I hope you would give these cooking ideas a try.