Despite what the supermarket aisle may lead you to believe, there's more to an animal than neatly wrapped styrofoam trays of meat. From tongue to tail, offal (pronounced awful) encompasses all those taboo edibles that don't make the cut at your local grocer. Just Offal is here to explore these oft-neglected byproducts of butchering, featuring different offal meals from establishments across the Valley.
This week: Ribbon Tripe from Khai Hoan
The Ick Factor: What we like to call ribbon tripe is thin slices of omasum, the stippled stomach meat from a cow (as opposed to the smooth or honeycomb varieties, just in case you're a tripe aficionado). But even if you don't think you could "stomach" the though of eating ribbon tripe, you have to admit that it's "offal" pretty afloat in a bowl of steaming hot pho.
(bite into all the juicy details after the jump)
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The Offal Choice: The Pho Tai Sach Bo Vien from Khai Hoan. Quick lesson in how to order pho: Tai is the thin raw beef slices that are cooked by the heat of the broth, Sach would be those delicious ribbons of tripe, and Bo Vien are the funny little oval-shaped meatballs. We're still not entirely convinced those mystery meat-a-balls don't have a bit of offal gristle in them.
Tastes Just Like: Nothing much. The flavor of the ribbon tripe is fairly innocuous and manages to absorb the fragrant and flavorful broth. On its own the tripe is slightly nutty in flavor, with the texture of al dente pasta. Ribbon tripe definitely has some "bite" to it, and it will offer chewy resistance at being consumed. The thinner you can get your ribbon tripe, the easier it is to mistake it for rice noodles, so if you're DIY-ing some pho (because that's totally how we see our weekend shaping up), slice that tripe into feathery little ribbons.
Always been a DIY-er? The tripe is the easy stuff to find. The pho takes a bit longer to whip up from scratch, but this cheeky step-by-step tutorial for Pho Tai will have you chowing down in only several hours time. Unless you have many hours free during which you can boil marrow bones to create a fragrant, umami-laden base for your soup, it's best to leave the pho to the experts.