Over the weekend I was in my hometown of Guangzhou, formerly known as Canton, in the south of China. The Cantonese are known for their love of food and Cantonese cuisine is one of the most well-known of Chinese cooking (think fried rice and dim sums). The first thing I ate when I got there though, was a large plate of honeycomb tripe, cooked in an aromatic broth of soy sauce and star anise paired with garlic-infused white vinegar.
Tripe falls into the universe of offal, a world of discarded and often overlooked meats. The official definition of offal is quite blurry, ranging from organs and parts of animals not eaten by humans, to any part except the muscle and bone of an animal. Whilst many cultures have a history of eating offal, it’s not so common a dish these days.
Offal inspires love as well as disgust, but I think that it is a nice addition to the usual cuts of meat we can find. What’s there to love about offal? Well, first there’s the diverse range of flavours and textures, more deep and rich than skeletal meats – just try a stew of beef offal with white radish (recipe below), and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Secondly, offal is dirt cheap, and while that might leave you thinking that it must be inferior to meat, most offal are more nutrient-dense and leaner than conventional cuts. Another reason is that eating offal means increasing the amount of an animal available to be eaten, meaning less waste. All this adds up to a nutritious, affordable and delicious meal that is good for the earth.
While strolling around the old town of Guangzhou, I found this little setup selling beef offal (two kinds of stomach, cartilage, intestine, lungs) stew with raddish and tofu puffs, and I just couldn’t resist.
Super Simple Recipe for Chinese Beef Offal and Radish Stew (卤水)
You will need:
500g of beef offal (I like stomach the most, the honeycomb and leaf kind)
1 large Chinese white radish (peeled, halved and cut into 1 inch semi-circles)
2 Tbsp dark soy sauce
2 Tbsp light soy sauce (a.k.a the normal kind you can easily find)
1 Star anise
1 Black cardamom pod
1 piece of preserved mandarin skin
1 cinnamon stick
3 pieces of liquorice
Salt to taste
Optional, tofu puffs
Parboil the offal, drain, and re-cover with water in a pot (I usually use about 2L of water). Add all other ingredients except radish, simmer for at least 30 minutes. Add radish, cook until radish becomes translucent and is tender.
If you want more than just a snack, you can serve it with steamed rice and choy sum
This was a post by Ponytail Pal Kiwi.