Most of us might not have any idea what Menudo is, rather than asking- how is Menudo fattening. When is Menudo pork or beef and how is Menudo healthy or unhealthy? You’ll also want to know what can you substitute for tripe if you’ve learned what this ingredient really is. All this- and more, in this alternative look at Latin America’s beloved family favorite!
Is Menudo pork or beef?
The main ingredient in Menudo is actually one of the lesser-known parts of an animal that many people might feel queasy just thinking about. It’s actually part of the stomach lining that is taken from many types of farm animals and is called tripe. It’s not exclusively a South American ingredient and has been a common favorite in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Hungarian, and Slovakian recipes for centuries and throughout most of Europe.
It has also been found to be a big hit in Africa, China, Arabian countries, and the Philippines. If you’ve heard of Haggis, it’s a delicacy in Scotland. The only place where tripe is considered a garbage ingredient is the US. However, tell that to those who live in St. Louis and love their fried tripe sandwich, or the Philadelphia pepper soup in top eateries throughout the city of brotherly love.
As you might already have guessed, Menudo is not just an obscure Mexico-based pop band that gave birth to Ricky Martin. Menudo is a deeply rooted soup or stew that became popular in pre-revolutionary Mexico among the poverty-stricken citizens at that time. According to South America’s history, it’s fact that the Spanish explorers brought their culinary culture to South America and introduced their methods to the local people.
While it seems that Influenza was the #1 import that Spain introduced to the ancient Aztecs, those who did survive had learned how to prepare tripe. They also learned to add spices and flavors to create this meal. It seems that Menudo became very popular in the north of Mexico as the Spanish pushed further into new territories. Menudo is typically made from beef tripe which is selectively using the honeycomb since this cooks faster than the others.
In the Philippines, only pork tripe is used for their Menudo version. But as we all know, the official recipe was brought by Spanish merchants from Mexico to the Philippines on their Manila Galleon Trade routes. The Filipino version now looks similar to a direct Spanish interpretation that morphed into a Spanish-style pork soup with tripe, meat, and vegetables. The Mexican version of this dish has remained unique, flavorful, and includes many benefits.
Is Menudo fattening?
Understanding what tripe is made of also requires a bit of explanation of what it’s not. Tripe is not the traditional meat found in animals. It’s an organ that has no specific muscle mass to it. It contains many proteins, minerals, and vitamins, and has been proven to be much healthier than meats including steak. Because this organ is the stomach of an animal, it needs to be cooked for longer so it becomes tender.
Aside from this, tripe never loses any of its nutrients and is significantly lower in fat than many other cuts of meat. To be perfectly clear, tripe contains 3.4 grams of fat compared to 14.5 grams in steak when served just a mere 3 ounces of each. It would be sufficient to say that Menudo won’t make you overweight from casual servings once a week or more. For those sticking to a Keto diet, it fits well because there are 131 calories with 11 grams of carbs.
The soup itself is rather greasy, yet this can be from using beef broth stock or from using traditional stock recipes that involve simmering a cow foot to render beef stock. This doesn’t add extra fat but makes Menudo, especially greasy tasting. If you have friends from the Guadalajara region in Mexico, they’ll most certainly have used cow feet for beef stock to boost the flavor. The rest is all spices, peppers, and tons (and tons), of spicy herb flavor.
Is Menudo healthy or unhealthy?
You can bet that Menudo is a very healthy soup that features health benefits that everyone should benefit from. Aside from the multiple health benefits from tripe, it brings plenty of nutrients that are good for your body. Tripe contains vitamin B9 which includes niacin and folate, while B12 helps stimulate red blood cell production. There is also zinc and iron with plenty of amino acids that can help you to build stronger muscles and healthy hormones.
It has shown that it’s excellent for dieting and can help you to lose weight. It has also shown an increase in preventing anemia that only our friends who like visiting the vitamin store, are trying to avoid. The only people who criticize Menudo are the ones who are repulsed by eating tripe. Yes, it’s a creepy thought, but no more creepy than eating raw oysters?… It’s not a delicacy for some since you either love it or hate it.
The real deal-breaker is when Menudo is made incorrectly and the tripe is not cooked to become soft and tender. If you get rubbery, blubbery, and poorly prepared Menudo, the experience is ruined forever. Yet for some across the US, the concept of eating the stomach lining of an animal is all the same as asking them to eat cow and pork rectums. Most of us never consider this ingredient is already in most hotdogs used as a meat filler. Who knew?
What can you substitute for tripe?
Vegetarians and vegans can unite when it comes to enjoying Menudo thanks to the modern miracle of mushrooms. And luckily, some mushrooms look impressively similar to cow stomachs. This includes the Oyster mushroom since this genuine beauty has the look of the ribbon tripe which is lower in the cow’s stomach system below the Honeycomb tripe.
Luckily, the mushroom can be cooked in a sauté and added to the soup. Oyster mushrooms tend to be very rubbery and chewy anyway, so at least the texture is somewhat genuine. Another option is to use dried snow fungus mushrooms that also mimic this texture. Even a combination might be good if you want to have a great visual impact that goes with a hearty and spicy soup.