While tripe from any hoofed animal is consumed somewhere in the world, beef tripe is arguably revered in more cuisines, including French, Italian, Mexican, and Chinese, to name a few. Honeycomb tripe, the second compartment of a cow’s stomach, is used in most recipes, and slow cooking is a sure way to turn it into something utterly rich, warming and succulent.
That said, other parts of a cow’s stomach can offer very different but equally satisfying textural pleasure as well. My recipe here features omasum, the third compartment of a cow’s stomach. As you can see from the picture to the right, it consists of thin sheets of tissue attached to a denser outer ring, which is why it’s often called book tripe. In Mandarin, it’s called Niu Bai Ye (牛百叶), where Niu means cow, and Bai Ye is literally translated as “a hundred leaves”. Because of its unique and delicate structure, omasum tripe should be cooked very briefly. Quickly stir-frying, steaming, or blanching in hot water is all you need to retain its beautiful shape and achieve the desired “crunchy” texture.
The recipe below is my rendition of the famous Sichuan dish Omasum beef tripe in chile oil (红油百叶). The assertive seasoning and aromatics from chile oil, garlic, and cilantro contrast the mild flavor of the tripe, and the crushed nuts further accentuate omasum’s crunchiness.
You can find omasum tripe in Asian grocery stores or other ethnic markets. Typically it is sold cleaned and ready to use.
Omasum beef tripe in chile oil (红油百叶)
Makes 2 servings
12 oz (340 g) omasum beef tripe, cleaned
2 bunches cilantro
2 cloves garlic, minced
Mixture of 1 tablespoon chile oil and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Adjust the mix to make it more or less spicy as needed.
3 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Zhenjiang (aka Chinkiang) vinegar
½ teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
2 tablespoons peanuts, coarsely crushed. Sesame seeds and pine nuts are good options as well.
- Separate the cilantro leaves from the stems. Cut the stems into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces.
- Rinse the tripe thoroughly under running water. Cut the tripe along the sheets into smaller sections, each about 2-3 inches (5 – 7.5 cm) wide. Cut each section against the sheets into ¼-inch (6 mm) thick pieces, with each piece resembling a little comb.
- In a large pot, bring the water mixed with the Shaoxing wine to a boil. Divide the tripe pieces into small batches. Blanch each batch in the boiling water for 20 seconds, and immediately transfer to cold or ice water to cool, to ensure the crunchiness of the tripe. Drain well and pat the tripe pieces completely dry.
- In a bowl large enough to hold the tripe, spread the minced garlic at the bottom. Heat the oil in a small pan until it just starts smoking and pour over the garlic. Let the mixture cool down slightly. Mix in the soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar. Add the tripe pieces and quick toss to coat with the sauce. Arrange them beautifully on a plate, and garnish with the cilantro leaves and stems, and crushed peanuts.
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