Honeycomb tripe salad
I know that for most people, tripe is one of their least favourite foods, to put it mildly. It's associated with memories of gigantic pots of boiling stinkiness, force feeding in childhood, and acts of human unkindness. But I love it.
Maybe it's due to my Chinese upbringing and the constant encouragement to try suspicious looking foods, or just that the Cantonese cook tripe with such savoury, piquant sauces you'd be a lunatic not to like it. Nevertheless despite my fondness, until now I had only encountered tripe hot, either 'a la fiorentina' (submerged in a sweet, smooth tomato sauce) or in dim sum. Cold tripe was a revelation.
We bought our tripe from an incredible stall in Florence's Mercato Centrale, called Nuova Tripperia Fiorentina. It specialises in all things cooked cow offal. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but my friend and I thought we had found a small stall from heaven. Along with several different types of tripe, you can buy cooked trotters, snout, udder and uterus to name a few.
Feeling brave we bought a slice of udder (called poppa in Italian), procrastinated over cooking it, and finally seared it on a high heat with a dusting of seasoned flour. Sprinkled with lemon juice it was delicious, almost cheesy tasting. I know that sounds deeply weird, but really it was delicious!
If you can read Italian Nuova Tripperia’s website has a great collection of authentic offal recipes.
Serves two for lunch or four as part of a lunch spread
300g cooked honeycomb tripe
3 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 sticks celery, thinly sliced
½ red onion, finely chopped
1 lemon, juice and grated zest
½ tbsp red wine vinegar
Sea salt and pepper
1 handful of parsley, mint or both
What to do
Slice the tripe into thin, bite sized strips. Add the tomatoes, celery and onion, then season well and toss together with the lemon, vinegar and olive oil. This salad is best eaten cold so leave it to marinate in the fridge for a few hours.
Just before you serve, roughly chop the parsley and mint, scatter over and toss again. The tripe should have a bouncy texture, which is lovely soaked in its earthy, lemony sauce and given sparkle by brightly flavoured herbs.