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 it?
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 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 Soup Recipe
- 1 lb pork or beef honeycomb bleached and clean [0.45 kg]
- 3 cilantro sprigs
- 1 tsp salt divided (or more, to taste)
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 gal water [4 liters], divided, may need more
- 2 limes
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 large red onion chopped into small cubes
- 1 tsp crushed garlic
- 1/2 cup chopped celery stalks
- 1 bell pepper diced
- 6 plum tomatoes diced
- 1/4 tsp oregano
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce (or 3 heaping tbsp of tomato paste)
- 3 potatoes large, cut into cubes
- 1 large carrot diced
- 1 tsp agrio de naranja or hot sauce (may be omitted)
Cleaning the honeycomb: Peel off fat and lining. Wash with abundant cold water.
Boiling the honeycomb: Place the honeycomb in a large pot. Add cilantro, a teaspoon of salt, and ground pepper. Pour in half a gallon [2 liters] of water and add the juice of two limes. Boil until the honeycomb is fork-tender, adding water as it becomes necessary to maintain the same level. This may take a long time: 1 to 3 hours in a conventional pot. You can shorten this by using a pressure cooker, where it may take 30 to 60 minutes.
Chopping the honeycomb: Remove the honeycomb from the heat and discard the liquid. Cool to room temperature. Cut into spoon-sized pieces. Set it aside.
Cooking the vegetables: In a pot heat the oil over medium-low heat. Stir in the onion and garlic. Cook and stir until the onions become translucent. Stir in celery, peppers, and tomatoes. Cook covered for a couple of minutes. Add oregano, and pour in the tomato sauce and stir.
Cooking the mondongo: Add the honeycomb, carrot, and potato. Cook stirring for a couple of minutes. Pour in Add 3 cups of water. Simmer covered over low heat until the potatoes and carrots are cooked through (about 15 minutes). Taste and season with salt and hot sauce to taste. Remove from the heat.
Serving: This should be served as soon as it comes off the stove. If you are not going to eat it right away, reheat right before serving. Serve with arroz blanco and avocado.