There are three kinds of beef tripe (blanket, honeycomb, and book 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. A "dressed" tripe is pale, almost white, and it has been soaked in a chlorine solution to remove impurities. The process is called bleaching. Most tripe sold in groceries has undergone bleaching. Whether you have bleached or unbleached tripe, either way, tripe has to be rinsed and properly cleaned prior to cooking.
Also, you can use this cleaning method for the tripe that comes from other ruminants like sheep, lamb, goat, pigs, or deer.
Cleaning Unbleached Beef Tripe
You will want to clean unbleached tripe in pretty much the same way that you clean ox (beef) tongue that had not been trimmed. Start by cutting off and discarding all unwanted fat and anything that doesn't look like tripe. Next, rub the tripe all over with rock salt then rinse it with vinegar. Repeat this process until there are no visible impurities. Then, scrape the entire surface of the tripe with a long sharp knife. Finally, 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.
Cleaning Bleached Beef Tripe
The paler, bleached beef tripe is mostly free from grit and impurities. However, you still need to rinse it in water several times to remove as much of the chlorine that it was bleached with. Otherwise, chlorine that has been left behind can leave a nasty odor and that taste will permeate your cooked dish.
When the tripe looks clean, place it in a pot and cover with water. Add plenty of salt. Bring to a boil and allow to boil hard for 10 minutes. Throw out the water, then rinse the tripe in cold water several times.
After par-boiling, the tripe is now ready to be cut. The 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.
Once properly cleaned, you can cook a myriad of delicious tripe dishes. Tripe is eaten in many parts of the world. Tripe is great for grilling, stewing, and deep-frying. You can also make tripe soup, which is popular in Eastern European and Latin American cuisine.