Intestinal Fortitude

In the current era of eco-veggie-friendliness, it is occasionally worth considering the culinary possibilities of intestines. The more adventurous national cuisines subscribe to the notion of “waste not, want not,” which led to their consumption. Originally this had a lot to do with poverty and subsistence, then stubbornness, and then nostalgia, but through it all ran a spongy tube of utility: edible wrapping!

Haggis comes to mind when we think of intestinal treats, but that’s more of a heart/liver/lungs inside the stomach sort of thing. Ditto tripe, which is usually cow stomach, but sometimes pig. The stomach and intestines must be somewhat related, and it raises the question of how one tastes vs. the other, but that is really the subject of another post (although haggis lovers should take pride in the fact that Chicagoland is the American capital of haggis production).

The best bet for finding intestine is in Chinatown, which may not come as a shock. Every restaurant has its own preparation, but it is possible to divide your options into two main categories: fried and non-fried. I love frying for its ability to take away all texture and flavor native to the food item, and in the case of intestines, this may be desirable. Try out Ken Kee, Penang, Shui Wah, or Spring World for the crispy variety.

But if you’re willing to have your entrails boiled, sautéed or baked…first of all, you’re my kind of eater. Second, here’s where you should go, after the jump:

Mountain View Chef prepares theirs with sour cabbage (what a killer combo!); and Lao Sze Chuan has a dish that’s twice cooked and spicy (twice cooked means tender, and when they say spicy, it’s for serious).

Finally, if you still need to be sold on intestine, consider this: scientists at Purdue have discovered that a derivative of pig intestine can be used to treat incontinence, among other ailments. This is not irony, but damn close. In the next installment, chitterlings!


Intestinal Fortitude