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Tripe For Delicious and Cheap Meals

Updated on September 22, 2017
Tripes à la mode de Caen, a classic in French cuisine. Image: © Food-micro |
Tripes à la mode de Caen, a classic in French cuisine. Image: © Food-micro |

"Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are. " Quipped 18th century French gastronome Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, and his words apply equally to what one will not eat.

A "yuck" response to tripe usually indicates an Anglo-Celtic background and ingrained childhood associations of tripe with a gluey white mess.

Tripe's lowly status in Anglo-Celtic culture is reflected in its colloquial use in the English language to refer to "rubbish" or "nonsense". No other offal has such a derogatory association.

In contrast, tripe has been held in high esteem in European cooking for centuries. Tripe recipes abound in French and Italian cooking.

Alexandre Dumas wrote in his Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine , "Seven cities have claimed the honour of being Homer's birthplace. France and Italy argue about who had the honour of discovering how to prepare beef tripe. I would abandon any claim which France might make in this respect. But duties are imposed on us, and we do not concede our claim on this score to the inhabitants of Milan."

In The Second Classic Italian Cookbook Marcella Hazan says that "a well-prepared dish of tripe cannot be equalled by more expensive cuts of meat. And for those who watch calories, tripe has so little fat that it produces one-third or less the amount of calories of roast beef, while yielding the same amount of protein."

Trippa alla fiorentina (Italian cuisine) Image: © uckyo -
Trippa alla fiorentina (Italian cuisine) Image: © uckyo -

What Is Tripe?

Tripe is the four stomachs of a cow prepared as food.

The creamy white tripe found in the butcher shops is from the rumen ("blanket" and "seam" tripes) and the smaller reticulum ("honeycomb" tripe).

The third stomach is called "leaf", "book" or "Bible" tripe and is widely available at Asian butchers. The stomach proper yields a dark tripe which is not sold in Australia.

In itself, tripe does not have a distinctive taste. Rather it provides a tender, succulent textural background for its sauce - rather like pasta does.

Dumas' instructions for preparing tripe begin with "scrub and wash in an ocean of water". However, these days, tripe is sold pre-washed and pre-cooked by most butchers, cutting out all the hard out work.

Spanish cuisine. Callos con garbanzos a la madrilena. Image: © AgathaLemon -
Spanish cuisine. Callos con garbanzos a la madrilena. Image: © AgathaLemon -
Polish Tripe Soup. Image: © CCat82 -
Polish Tripe Soup. Image: © CCat82 -
Andouillettes aux pommes de terre sautées. Image: © PackShot -
Andouillettes aux pommes de terre sautées. Image: © PackShot -

Tripe In European Cuisines

Italian recipes for tripe are numerous enough for a whole book, and tripe remains popular in the old neighbourhoods of the northern and central Italian cities. Trippa alla Romana , a recipe which appeared in the 18th century cookbook L'Apicio Moderno (The Modern Epicurean), by Francesco Leornardi, is still served in Rome in the Trastevere quarter.

In Florence, for centuries tripe was "meat" for the impoverished artisans of the San Frediano quarter. However, its delights induced even well-heeled Florentines to cross the Arno to partake in these low-cost dishes. Tripe sandwiches are still a popular Florentine snack.

One of the most famous French dishes is Tripes à la mode de Caen , in which the tripe is slowly simmered in Calvados (apple brandy) with aromatic herbs and vegetables.

The spicy Lyonnaise tripe sausages andouillettes (or chitterlings) were celebrated in Rabelais' food writings in the Renaissance. And I can assure you that there's nothing better than andouillettes for a hangover!!

The regional Spanish dish of Callos a la Gallega is a harmonious marriage of chickpeas with tripe, spiked with chorizo and paprika.

Tripe soup (Flaczki ) is a classic Polish with a warming touch of powdered ginger. Marrow dumplings are a common accompaniment. Now, that's offal on offal!

Spicy Chinese Tripe dish - note the finer texture of the "bible" tripe used in this dish. Image: © Qidong Cai |
Spicy Chinese Tripe dish - note the finer texture of the "bible" tripe used in this dish. Image: © Qidong Cai |

Tripe in Asian Cuisines

Asian cuisine also makes much of tripe. Ngau Lam Meen , which is popular amongst the Chinese, comprises various beef cuts and innards, including tripe, simmered for hours in a rich beef broth and spices and served with noodles.

The Vietnamese pho consists of noodles in a beef broth of consommé clarity with your choice of literally about every part of the cow.or should I say "bull" as the "pizzle" is also available to the hard-core offal lovers. My favourite combination for pho is with rare beef and bible tripe.

In Indonesia, black tripe (the stomach proper) is regarded as the choicest tripe.


If you've had an aversion to tripe to date, maybe this rich spicy coconut curry rendition will convince of the joys of this wonderful offal! Hey, it's a lot less challenging than that American cowboy speciality of Son-of-a-Bitch stew which combines the milk-filled stomach of a calf with calf's tongue, liver, heart and sweetbreads!!!

1 kg honeycomb tripe
1 tbsp salt
Juice 1 lemon
4 - 5 tbsps oil
2 x 400 ml tins coconut milk
2 tbsps thick tamarind extract
1 tbsp palm sugar
½ tsp salt (extra)

Spice Paste:
12 large fresh chillies (preferably green)
½ cm slice blachan (dried shrimp paste)
8 cloves garlic
4 cm fresh ginger
3 tsps ground coriander
1 tsp cumin
12 kemiri nuts (candlenuts)
Approx. 1-cm chunk galangal (or 2 tsps laos powder)


  1. Rub the tripe with salt and lemon juice. Set aside for an hour. Rinse and cut into 1 cm strips.
  2. In a food processor, grind the spice paste ingredients to a fine paste. (All the spices are available from Asian greengrocers.)
  3. Heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan over moderate heat. When the oil is lightly smoking, add the spice paste and fry until fragrant.
  4. Add the tripe. Fry for a few more minutes, then add the coconut milk, tamarind extract, palm sugar and extra salt. Stir to blend.
  5. Simmer, partially covered, for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  6. When the sauce becomes very thick, stir frequently. The rendang will exude oil and start to fry in its own oil when it's done.
  7. Serve hot with steamed rice and slices of cucumber.

NB: This dish freezes extremely well. If you really cannot cope with trying tripe, you can use chunks of stewing steak and make beef rendang instead.


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    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 22 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      I've heard about tripe on cooking shows. But I never had it before. I probably wouldn't be able to stomach it--no pun intended--either. Great job with this tripe hub and recipe.

    • Foodstuff profile image

      Foodstuff 5 years ago from Australia

      Oh, what a pity about your coconut allergy, Franfrog.Sorry I made you hungry and homesick... :)

    • profile image

      franfrog 5 years ago

      I agree, tripe can be wonderful! I love tripe a la mode de Caen and Andouillette. This post makes me hungry and homesick and longing for these beautiful meals years ago in the country in France!! The Indonesian recipe sounds interesting and I am sorry that I am allergic to coconut, I'd love to try it.