The statement of “13 Styles of Quick-Fried Tripe of Old Beijing” can be traced back to the Manchu times and the legend has it that Beiles (a rank of the Manchu nobility below that of the Prince) had different tastes for “parts” quick-fried, so 13 types of quick-fried tripe were produced over time, including 4 quick-fried ox tripe, namely smooth tripe (Duren), pocket tripe (Houtou), leaf tripe (Baiye) and leaf slices (Baiyejian); 9 quick-fried lamb tripe, namely smooth tripe(Duren), omasum (Sandan), ridge beam on the first stomach (Duling), end of abomasums (Mogutou), tripe slices (Dusi), first stomach (Duban), esophagus (Shixin), lower end of first stomach (Mogu), and reticulum (Hulu).
Generally speaking, black Baiye we eat is lamb tripe and precisely Sandan because only those of ox are called Baiye which is divided into two types: cattle fed with fodder has black Baiye; yet fed with grain and crop has yellow Baiye. So the taste of the latter one is better, similar to the rationale of free-range chicken.
Ox tripe is thicker than lamb tripe, so if you would like crisp food, you’d better order Sandan; on the contrary, if you like tough taste, Baiye is a better choice.
The supreme stage is having Duling which is expensive and tenderer than Duren. Reportedly, several stomachs could only produce one dish. Duling of lamb should only be eaten after peeling off the skin and that of ox can be fried directly. The degree of cooking matters a lot because the food is too soft. If cooked heavily, it is inedible.
When having cooked tripe, you only need to pick up one piece at a time and dip caraway and green onion at the bottom of bowl. In the meantime, “feeling of tooth” is also important: if those at the nearby dining table believe you are chewing a tender cucumber when only listening to the sound, you’ve undoubtedly become an expert in eating cooked tripe.
Fans jokingly talk about lamb Duren that “it’s as white as snow and as soft as flower, I couldn’t help but missing it”. When the tender Duren is served, it’s unnecessary to be rinsed and you can dip in condiment and then have the chewable food. After careful inquiry, we learned that Duren is a swell in four stomachs of lamb. The swell sliced from the stomach is 4 liang (50 grams), but after getting rid of surface and muscles, it is only 1 liang. A dish needs 5 lambs, so its preciousness is easily understandable.
In old days, ordinary people always had Baiye and Sandan. Only those poor people getting rich suddenly or wealthy people who are not very rich ordered Duren and Mogu. But now, we lead a well-off life and can enjoy all these parts at an affordable price. The most expensive Mogujian costs only a dozen yuan.
As a famous dish in Beijing, quick-fried tripe was recorded earliest in the period under the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty, and peaked in the end of the Qing Dynasty and beginning of the Republic of China. Take Dong’an Market alone as an example, there were 7 shops sold quick-fried tripe at most. Most well-known shops include the Baodu Feng, Baodu Wang at Dong’an Market, Baodu Shi in Tianqiao, Baodu Yang in Menkuang Hutong and Baodu Man of pailou in Dongsi. The food in old Beijing was divided into two parts based on consumption power: Dong’an Market and Tianqiao in south Beijing. Those offered in Tianqiao and Da Shi Lan were mainly ox Baiye and Duling with extensive techniques. But the dish produced by Baodu Feng and Baodu Wang was more exquisite, mainly offering lamb tripe. Officials and nobilities at early days, especially those in the operatic circle, took eating quick-fried tripe as a feast.