stomach, tripas, tripoux, trippa.
Tripe is a generic term referring to the stomach of various animals including cows, pigs and sheep. It's most commonly used to refer to honeycomb tripe (pictured above) which is the second stomach of a cow, however the first and third stomachs can also be called tripe. Confused yet? It get's more complicated. Tripe comes in 3 varieties: green, cleaned, and bleached.
Green tripe is the organ as it comes out of the animal and needs to have the contents removed and thoroughly cleaned, otherwise you might get a mouthful of the cow's last meal. It is typically greenish brown or gray in color and you aren't likely to find it in the US since the USDA requires that tripe be cleaned before it can be sold to consumers.
Cleaned tripe is just what it sounds like. It's been washed and the contents of the stomach are removed. This is the best way to get it as it requires less cleaning but it doesn't have the swimming pool smell of bleached tripe. It's hard to find in the US though, as most processors take the next step to bleach it.
Bleached tripe is the "cleanest" having been soaked in chlorine and they are almost pure white in color, but they smell strongly of chlorine and need to be soaked in a couple changes of cold water to reduce the odor. This is the most common variety found in the US.
What's it taste like?
Depending on what animal it comes from and how it's prepared the odors vary, but it typically has a gamey aroma that smells a bit like what the stomach used to contain. If cooked properly the smell should be masked by other ingredients as tripe readily picks up other flavours. Texturally it's tough and almost crunchy when lightly cooked, but gets spongy and tender as it cooks for a longer period of time. As it softens the collagen become gelatin giving it a texture similar to other cuts of meat that are high in connective tissue content.
Where do I get it?
While it's rare for it to show up in a supermarket, you should be able to find it at the butcher, or in Latin or Asian ethnic grocers.
When is it best?
There is no season.
How do I use it?
It's used across Europe, Asia and Latin America. The typical preparation is to clean it, par boil it, then braise it for several hours over low heat to tenderize it.
High in protein, calcium and iron.