Omasum Salad: Tripe from Phoenix Palace

Tripe Phoenix Palace.jpg
Erica O'Neil
Omasum (beef stomach) salad from Phoenix Palace.

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: Omasum Salad (Tripe) served up by Phoenix Palace.

The Ick Factor: Tripe is a fun little offal grab bag. You've probably heard that a cow's stomach is composed of four different chambers, and each one yields a different type of tripe. So as Old Bessy chews up her cud, it travels through the rumen, into the reticulum and the omasum, and heads out through the abomasum, headed for other funky destinations. That last chamber of the cow's stomach isn't consumed too often (duh), but the rest of those nasty bits are incorporated into all sorts of eats. Each type of tripe has a very different texture and consistency, so choose wisely. It can be thick and smooth (rumen), honeycombed (reticulum) like the stuff often used for menudo, or thin and stippled ribbons-o-tripe (omasum) like our delicious dim sum standby.

All the juicy details after the jump.

Tripe Wiki.jpg
A variety of tripe in the raw. Left to right: smooth rumen, honeycomb reticulum, and ribbons of omasum.

The Offal Choice: Omasum salad, tossed in a light chili sauce and delivered via dim sum cart at the Phoenix Palace.

Tastes Just Like: Al dente pasta. The tripe at Phoenix Palace had a texture that was much more tender and toothsome than some of its chewier counterparts. They have perfected omasum cooking up in this joint.

gigijin Flickr Omasum.jpg
gigijin via Flickr
A close-up of omasum's texture.
The tripe had a surprising mouthfeel similar to al dente pasta, firm resistance but not so much that it was hard to chomp through. The stippled bits of texture on the omasum was a little bit foreign feeling against our tongue, but not unpleasant.

What was the most surprising about the tripe was the flavor. It was practically nutty, with a mild musky aftertaste that's common to other offal meat. And the chili flakes added just the right amount of heat.

You Know It's Cooked Improperly When: Your jaw is working overtime, and it feels like you're chewing on rubber bands. Tripe can be pretty tough and has to be boiled for a good long time before it softens up enough to be palatable. Also, the funky stomach bits should be washed very well. We shouldn't have to explain why.

Always been a DIY-er? You're in luck! Tripe can be picked up at just about any market, even them fancy ones, but just like other offal, a market with ethnic flair is going to have the best variety. So if you're looking specifically or omasum (instead of that honeycomb variety), check out Lee Lee's Oriental Supermarket next door to Phoenix Palace and whip up some omasum salad!

Know of some offal we just have to try? Leave your suggestions in the comments section.

Location Info

Phoenix Palace

2075 N. Dobson Road, Chandler, AZ

Category: Restaurant

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My Voice Nation Help

My favorite offal at the moment is book tripe, the omasum.  I buy it at the Asian Market for 2.75/lb, cleaned, partially cooked.  There is no odor to this at all.  I slice it thin like noodles.  After boiling in salted water for 5-8 minutes, I rinse it to cool it.  Mixed with veggies as a cold salad, it's hard to tell it's tripe.  It has a crunchiness that is more like vegetable and even looks more like a veg.  It's not chewy either. No strong taste or odor.  Great source of protein. Great with any type of dressing or sauce. Thinking about using this tripe in place of pasta for marinara.  Also would be good in stir fry. The other tripe, the rumen, I use for other more typical tripe dishes.  I don't care for honeycomb tripe at all.

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