My Life in Peru

An Expat Mom Shares Her Experiences with Peruvian Life, Travel and Food

Cau Cau de Mondongo

Posted on | February 11, 2011 | 22 Comments

Cau Cau con camarones

Image by morrissey via Flickr

Much like in the US, there are dishes in Peru that are remnants from the days when slavery was common. These dishes are usually made using the “less desirable” cuts of meat and food that was cheap or even left over from the slave owners.  In the US, we have chitterlings (or chitlins, as most of us call them), pig’s feet and turnip greens (the greens were left over when the the main house ate the turnips).

In Peru you find dishes like tacu tacu (made from leftover rice and beans), anticuchos (made from beef heart) and several dishes made using mondongo, better known in English as tripe.

The recipe I’m sharing today is for cau cau – a very common meal in Lima, although I personally don’t care for it. Cau cau is a stew made from beef tripe and potatoes – food that is historically cheap and easy to find in Peru. It’s one of those meals that among Peruvians would be considered a “comfort food”.  It’s well known as  having been influenced by the kitchens of the African slaves during the Republican era. Their creativity in combining ingredients and flavors has made cau cau a favorite dish.

For those who prefer not to eat tripe (cow’s stomach), it can be replaced with chicken.  There are also seafood versions of cau cau that are very popular on the coast.


  • vegetable oil for cooking
  • 1/2 cup of diced onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic – diced
  • 4 tablespoons of aji amarillo paste
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric (in Peru, this is called palillo)
  • 1 lb (1/2 kilo) beef tripe, boiled and cut into cubes
  • 1-1/2 quarts (or liters) of beef broth – you can use the water used to boil the tripe
  • Salt, Pepper
  • Cumin
  • 1 kg potatoes (papa blanca is used in Peru), diced
  • 1/2 cup green peas (arvejitas)
  • 1/2 cup hierbabuena, finely chopped (spearmint)


  1. In a dutch oven or large stock pot, heat a couple tablespoons of oil for cooking.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, aji and turmeric. Saute for about 5-6 minutes, until the onions become translucent.
  3. Add the tripe and broth. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer for about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the diced potato and the green peas, simmer for another 10 minutes.
  5. Add the hierbabuena,  then salt, pepper and cumin to taste.

Serve with a side of rice, as shown in the picture. Just an FYI, the picture is with shrimp instead of mondonguito.

And just a word on the hierbabuena. When I had eaten cau cau, I thought that it was parsley. But it turns out that it is in fact spearmint, and my housekeeper Elizabeth- who is also an excellent cook and helps me so much with my recipes – says that the mint helps to cut any bad odor from the tripe.

A Dutch oven or French oven is the best thing to cook this in, because it is more like a stew.  The even heating of cast iron helps it cook evenly and meld the flavors. I recommend the Le Creuset Round French Oven, because the enamel is so easy to clean – and well, if I’m being honest, it’s just so pretty!  (That is an affiliate link, so if you decide to purchase, not only do you get an excellent piece of enamel ware, you also help to support the website – win/win for everybody!)

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22 Responses to “Cau Cau de Mondongo”

  1. Eunice
    February 11th, 2011 @ 14:45

    My mom stopped making cau cau with mondongo when she realized what a battle it was to get us to eat it. For many years she’s been making it with chicken instead and I personally think it tastes better that way. We have always used parsley, but when making it with mondongo the spearmint is a great tip!
    Eunice´s last blog post ..On Dietetics

  2. Kelly
    February 11th, 2011 @ 16:34

    I like the flavor of cau cau, but I don’t like mondongo – even when I didn’t know what it was that I was eating. I make it with chicken and parsley, too 😀

    I suppose I should mention that you should substitute chicken broth for the beef broth when you use chicken. Or at least I do!

  3. rebecca
    February 12th, 2011 @ 18:01

    interesting dish scared to eat tripe he he great blog i need to read it more

    rebecca´s last blog post ..Sauted Okra with Coconut

  4. Kelly
    February 13th, 2011 @ 00:25

    Haha… I probably wouldn’t have eaten it the first time if I’d known what it was! I’m used to it now, but still would rather NOT eat it. Thanks for stopping by – when you get ready to visit Peru, let me know if you have any questions!

  5. Miguel
    March 6th, 2011 @ 15:23

    Ah, Americanos, trying to simplify everything in the world, including the glorious Andean/Inca/Peruvian delectables. Thank you God for some of us Peruvians who still thrive to maintain traditional rules on how to prepare our own dishes, while still enjoying them.

  6. Kelly
    March 6th, 2011 @ 16:26

    What exactly is simplified about this recipe? If you have a more traditional method than this one (which I got from my Peruvian mother in law) I’d love to know it and share it.

  7. Ana
    March 21st, 2011 @ 15:26

    I love cau-cau, but my husband (American) won’t eat it, and he is a very adventurous eater. I have to try it with chicken. My mom has made it with fish, Toyo (or is it tollo?) and it is pretty good as well, just different.

    I (per my mom) cook the mondongo with the hierbabuena, so it doesn’t stink up the house.

    Also, something I love doing is squeezing a lime on the cau-cau. Lime makes almost everything taste so much better!!!

  8. Kelly
    March 21st, 2011 @ 15:47

    lol… spoken like a true Peruana! I’ve never seen a Peruvian house that didn’t have a bowl full of limes on the table or in the kitchen. :) Actually, it does seem like lime juice would be good on cau-cau. I’ll have to try it next time. I’ve seen it spelled toyo and tollo, so I guess they’re both correct – I should add that one on to the fish post I made the other day. Thanks for stopping by :)

  9. Lidia Mariaa
    March 25th, 2011 @ 14:52

    hey you guys don’t know what you’re missing, i used to tell my children that mondongo was a type of chicken meat they ate it now they are grown, they wont touch it, i never made it but love to eat it

  10. Kelly
    March 27th, 2011 @ 13:11

    haha! my husband tried that with pancitas at first – I asked him what it was when I found it with my anticuchos, and was like “Um, it’s just another part of the cow”…

    I was not fooled. 😉

  11. Lidia Maria
    March 27th, 2011 @ 16:18

    has anyone tried mondoguito a-la Italiana……my mom whom is ill and unable to cook made this wonderful delicacy one in a while, i loved it….don’t make it but love it

  12. Kelly
    March 27th, 2011 @ 16:25

    I honestly haven’t ever eaten it – I just cant’ wrap my head around eating tripe. They serve it often at one of my favorite huariques, but I never ordered it. I do know that – similar to cau-cau – the mondongo is cleaned and pre-cooked before it’s put in the mondonguito. I have a good recipe for it, but have never cooked it myself.

  13. Lidia Maria
    March 27th, 2011 @ 16:19

    cant spell once in a while!!!

  14. Javier
    January 6th, 2012 @ 11:32

    Queridos amigos y amigas cau-cau es un plato tradicional peruano incaico,se remota al tiempo de nuestros Incas que hacian cau-cau de llama..pero heran otras epocas, no hay nada tan sabroso que un buen cau-cau echo en olla de barro en la sierra peruana..ya veran como los despoierta despues de una “tranka”..saluudos….

  15. Roger
    June 27th, 2012 @ 11:26

    Mondonguito a la italiana is a peruvian version of the dish Trippa all fiorentina.
    Is part of the cultural fusion. LIke it is with menestron : minestrone or tallarin verde or tallarines rojos or torta pasqualina : pastel de acelaga, focaccia : fugazza etc.
    I’m peruvian and I don’t like mondongo.
    But the traditional cau cau is with hierba buena.

  16. Cecilia
    July 28th, 2012 @ 23:47

    Mondongo is not like tripe. It is the stomach bag. Please Ms. perfect American white trash, do not write if you do not know about Peruvian food. I also think you have never ever had heard about Mondonguito a la Italiana..Ciao vieja estupida…You shall better back to the USA to eat your pork BBQ full of sh…

  17. Kelly
    July 29th, 2012 @ 11:32

    Mondongo is the stomach bag? Funny, that’s what tripe is, too. …en diversos países de América Latina según zona y receta se denominan mondongo, guatita, tripa mishque, pancita o menudo.

    Mondonguito a la italiano – wrote about that a while back –
    But hey, appreciate your hate and anger! Thanks for playing!

  18. Kukana
    July 29th, 2012 @ 13:03

    Refreshing to see douche-bags aren’t exclusive to the US Kelly… JAJAJAJA

  19. LaurisB
    July 29th, 2012 @ 13:37

    Wow! How funny! You have to wonder what brought on Cecilia’s hate and anger over the innards of the cow! And I really wonder what she thinks tripe is! Hysterical! I never liked it when my mother cooked it in New England and I don’t like it here, although I admit that I’ve tasted cau cau and the seasonings are quite nice, better than Mom’s!
    LaurisB´s last blog post ..Happy Independence Day!

  20. Kelly
    July 29th, 2012 @ 13:44

    I know! Ya just go along minding your own business, and BAM – people want to get all butthurt. And during the Fiesta Patrias, too!

  21. Fernando
    February 23rd, 2013 @ 15:24

    I like the mondongo tripes stomach bag is all good I like to eat a full plate and sometimes repeat, I wouldn’t like it with chicken fish or anything else is dumb not to have it not to try it is an elastic feeling chewing it and is delicious why do some people have to be very delicate? I have the blood of a savage but I wear my heart on my sleeve.
    Buenas Noches.

  22. Natalia
    March 24th, 2013 @ 15:32

    I like cau cau just made of librillo, taste better than the other types of mondongo. Always use hierba buena for a real cau cau flavor.

    Good blog Kelly.

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    I got tired of life happening while I made other plans, so I quit my job and came to Peru. I live here with my Peruvian husband, two sons, three dogs and various other family members, depending on the weather.

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