Sunday, May 8, 2011

Pig Stomach, Hog Maw or Buche

I went to Ranch Market recently to buy some marinated Cornish Game Hens and walked by the area of the store that serves food to eat. I saw some beautiful looking carnitas and the server, who did not speak much English, cut off some and handed it to me to try. There was something next to the carnitas that I just couldn't figure out. I asked her what it was and she said "buche." She pulled out a piece, cut some off and handed it to me. 
It was really good. I ordered a quarter pound and asked her again what it was. She said "buche" and walked away. 
A man who spake no English at all finished up helping me. I brought the buche home and ate a portion of it and thought it was great. I guessed it was pig ears, because the structure seemed somewhat like it, although it was more soft and maleable than the pig ears we ate at our whole pig dinner. Later in the evening I shared some of the buche with Judy and asked her what buche was. She looked it up and informed me it was pig stomach. I couldn't believe it. It tasted amazing - no off putting taste or smell. How could it be stomach? 
Pig stomach, besides being known as buche in Spanish, is called pork or hog maw and pork tripe. One description I found said it has a gray, slightly leathery layer on the outside and a white, richer, but somewhat smoother layer on the inside, like squid in texture. There are other slightly fatty parts, 
thus providing three different textures and tastes. The description went on to say that sometimes it is not prepared well and is not tasty. Sometimes it smells like it has been cleaned with bleach, or the fattier parts are trimmed off or not cooked slowly enough to be tender. It is quite a bit different from cow stomach which has a honey comb pattern and not as fatty a texture, but both require slow cooking so that it does not become rubbery. This offal was not awful. If all offal tasted this good, it would be a regular part of my diet. It had a taste and texture of well prepared pork skin and fat, very porky and greasy.

About a week later I was back at Ranch Market and noticed they had more buche. My last one had been cut into strips, so I ordered one whole
so I could get a better idea of how it was structured. 
Different textures, a darker and a lighter, are readily apparent and opening it up 
reveals the moister, 
fatty parts. 
I had purchased my first buche in the morning and it was very fresh. I purchased this buche in the late afternoon and it had been sitting around longer. However, it still did not have an off-putting smell or taste and was still good, although not as finger licking good as my first batch. 


  1. I sometimes get a buche torta from the taco stand by my studio. The cashier always looks at me funny and more than once asks "you like this?" Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't... It has a very PIG smell/flavor that can be too strong. I wonder if yours is better though? Speaking of, next time you visit I have an A+ monster burrito place we have to go to.

  2. I suspect it is all about how well it has been cleaned and prepared. The stuff I had had no hint that it was stomach.