There are three kinds of beef tripe and each comes from a different chamber of the cow's stomach. If you've seen tripe in the market, you might have wondered why some are paler than others. It has nothing to do with the age or health of the animal from which it came. It has everything to do with bleaching.
The tripe from a newly-slaughtered cow is yellowish (almost brownish and, in some cases, greenish) and bits of undigested food may still be attached to it.
Pale, almost white, tripe has been soaked in a chlorine solution to remove impurities. The process is called bleaching. Most tripes sold in groceries have undergone bleaching. But bleached on unbleached, tripe has to be rinsed and cleaned prior to cooking.
How to Clean Unbleached Beef Tripe
I clean unbleached tripe in pretty much the same way that I clean ox (beef) tongue that had not been trimmed. I start by cutting off and discarding all unwanted fat and anything that doesn't look like tripe. Next, I rub the tripe all over with rock salt then rinse it with vinegar. I repeat the process until there are no visible impurities. Then, I scrape the entire surface of the tripe with a long sharp knife. Finally, I rinse the tripe several times with water.
In the case of honeycomb tripe, a soft clean toothbrush is useful to pry any dirt out of the crevices.
How to Clean Bleached Beef Tripe
The paler bleached beef tripe is mostly free from grits and impurities.
However, you still need to rinse it in water several times to remove as much of the chlorine with which it had been bleached. Otherwise, the chlorine will leave a nasty odor and taste that will permeate your cooked dish.
Par-boiling Beef Tripe
When the tripe looks clean, place it in a pot and cover with water.
Add plenty of salt. Bring to the boil and allow to boil hard for ten minutes. Throw out the water then rinse the tripe in cold water several times.
Cutting the Beef Tripe to the Desired Shape and Size
After par-boiling, the beef tripe is now ready to be cut. In what shape or size depends on the dish you intend to cook. While there is no harm in cooking the tripe uncut, cutting it after par-boiling shortens the cooking time considerably. It is also much more difficult to cut the tripe when it is already very tender as the delicate meat may not be able to withstand too much handling.