What better dish than tripe to start off my month of dim sum? Tripe may have a reputation for being smelly and rubbery, but when properly prepared it is neither of these things. The tripe pictured above (from Gerrard's Corner in London Chinatown) was perfectly textured, with a bit of a bite to it yet yielding easily to chewing, and with no hint of any unpleasant smell or taste.
The generic name for tripe is 肚 (dǔ) [see footnote]. However, the type of tripe used in this dish also has a couple of more poetic names, as mentioned in my post on 白/bái — 牛柏葉 and 牛百葉. Both of these are pronounced in Mandarin as niú bǎi yè; the first literally translates as "cow's cypress leaves" and the second as "cow's hundred leaves". Like the English names "leaf tripe", "book tripe", and "bible tripe", they refer to the appearance of the tripe slices, each with a long, firm "spine" from which softer, thinner "leaves" spread out. This kind of tripe comes from the omasum, the third chamber of the cow's stomach.
When served as dim sum, 牛柏葉 is generally flavoured with ginger and spring onions, often with a few sliced red chillies thrown in too. You might see this listed on the menu as 姜蔥牛柏葉 (jiāng cōng niú bǎi yè) or as 蔥椒牛柏葉 (cōng jiāo niú bǎi yè) — 姜 is ginger, 蔥 is spring onions, and 椒 is peppers/chillies. Some menus use the alternate character for ginger, 薑 (also pronounced jiāng). Other preparations include tripe in black bean sauce (豉汁牛柏葉/chǐ zhī niú bǎi yè) and plain poached tripe (白灼牛柏葉/bái zhuó niú bái yè).
To make this at home, make sure you get the right kind of tripe. As mentioned above, you want beef tripe (not pig tripe), and you want the third-chamber tripe, not the honeycomb stuff. I found it frozen at See Woo in Chinatown, amusingly labelled in English as "beef manifold".
When served in restaurants, the dish is usually cooked in advance, reheated by steaming, and presented as pictured above in a small dish nestled inside a steamer basket. The initial cooking takes rather longer than the reheating. Some tripe is pre-cooked, but if yours isn't, you may need to boil it for a couple of hours in order to get it soft enough.
English-language recipes for this dish seem to be few and far between. Foodblogger Nooschi has a recipe which involves stirfrying as a final step. (The FoodiePrints blog has an amusing pictorial of making Nooschi's recipe, first the wrong way, and then the right way.) Nooschi also suggests doing the initial boiling in chicken stock if you want a little more flavour, a suggestion seconded by the Gourmet magazine version (though Gourmet use the wrong tripe, and their suggestions of using low-sodium chicken broth and sherry look to me like house style sub-editing decisions rather than decisions made for the sake of flavour).
As an aside, you may also see stewed tripe on the menu (often as stewed tripe with daikon). I think this is usually honeycomb tripe, which comes from the reticulum (second chamber of the stomach).
Footnote:  I read on the ChinesePod forums (in a post that appears to have since been deleted) that 肚 is pronounced with a different tone depending on whether it's stomach-the-organ (dù) or tripe-the-edible-thing (dǔ), but I don't know how general a practice that is.