Mondongo (Tripe Stew) might not be some people's cup of tea, but in the Dominican Republic, it is a very popular dish.
We once took a poll amongst our readers called "Mondongo (Tripe Stew): Yucky or Yummy?", which sparked in me some reflection. My money was on a landslide victory for the Yuckies. I admit it, I voted more than once, in order to better register my opinion on the matter.
The Yuckies lost. By a lot.
What is tripe (mondongo)?
For those innocently unaware, tripe is a cute name for cow, pig, or goat intestines (stomach, intestines, and honeycomb tripe), a supposed delicacy, usually boiled or stewed. Mondongo is the name for tripe in Spanish, Dominican Spanish that is. Elsewhere it is called callos, menudo, and other equally non-descriptive names.
Although in my opinion of little esteem it resembles a smooth mass of rotini-shaped viscera in form, and a worn rubber bicycle tire in texture, it remains a savory delight to many others and in more countries than I can imagine. Tripe is also known as chitterlings in certain parts of the US.
Mondongo is not unique to the DR – my British Dad calls it "tripe" – and although it is by far the most popular edible innard, it is not the only one. Butifarra, bofe, and pico y pala are some other beloved names designed to mask some Dominican food’s dubious origins. (You can see that much more thought and wit go into naming these foods than those that are plainly called exactly what they are.)
Mondongo: hate it or love it?
Don't get me wrong: I am not a vegetarian. I will enjoy a juicy steak, devour a pica pollo, and during pregnancy even craved liver. My diet is diverse and colorful, which is why it rankles me to be cast in the role of "picky eater". While it’s only a small group of issues that dictate what I will not or cannot eat, they have occasionally caused my husband’s Dominican family to mock me and view me as delicada (read:weird).
My refusal to eat certain items has also left me excluded from many a late-night cocina'o or celebratory meal. The finicky outcast. My critics will say, "If you can eat one part of an animal, then why not the rest?" I know - it’s a quirk, but I do recycle my bottles and cans.
About our Mondongo recipe
Whether you're a fan or not, it doesn't really matter, this Sopa de Mondongo is very popular amongst Dominicans and the occasional adventurous foreigner. This is Aunt Clara's family recipe, but everyone swears by their own secret ingredient and method, so there are about as many recipes as there are Dominican home cooks.
There are some versions where it is mixed with pork or beef trotters, but we have a separate recipe for the solo dish. Some call a mixture of these two dishes "Patimondongo", a mouthful, in more than one sense.
Different vegetables are added to Mondongo depending on the cook's taste, and family tradition. Is your Mondongo recipe different? We'd love to hear about it.
Jill, a member of our original team (where we knew her as Aunt Jane), and contributor to our book, is Canadian, mom to two Canadian-Dominican boys and resided in the Dominican Republic for several years.
Mondongo - Recipe & Video (Dominican Tripe Stew)
- 2 lb pork or beef tripe cleaned and stripped of fat [0.9 kg]
- 1/2 gal water [2 liters]
- 4 limes
- 3 cilantro sprigs
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 2 tbsp oil corn, peanut or canola
- 2 red onions chopped into small cubes
- 1/2 tsp garlic mashed
- 1/2 cup celery chopped
- 4 green bell peppers cut into small pieces
- 6 plum tomatoes cut into 4 quarters
- 6 cup water may not need it all
- 3 potatoes large, cut into cubes
- 1 carrot large, diced
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1 tsp agrio de naranja or hot sauce, may be omitted
- 1/4 tsp oregano
- Boil the tripe in half a gallon of water until tender, adding the juice of two limes, cilantro, a teaspoon of salt and a pinch of pepper to the water. Cool to room temperature, remove from the water and cut into small pieces.
- In a pot heat the oil, add the onions, and garlic. Cook and stir until the onions become transparent. Add celery, peppers, and tomatoes. Cook covered over low heat for a minute. Add the tomato sauce and oregano and stir. Add the tripe. Simmer over medium heat for five minutes.
- Add 3 cups of water, potatoes, and carrots. Simmer covered over low heat until the potatoes and carrots are cooked. Season with salt to taste.
- Serve hot with arroz blanco. Garnish with the remaining limes cut into wedges and serve with hot sauce.