Offal is the entrails and internal organs of a butchered animal. The word does not refer to a particular list of organs, but includes most internal organs other than muscles or bones. Depending on the cultural context, offal may be considered as waste material that is thrown away, or as delicacies that command a high price. Offal not used directly for human or animal food is often processed in a rendering plant, producing material that is used for animal feed, fertilizer, or fuel.
The traditional Scottish haggis consists of sheep stomach stuffed with a boiled mix of liver, heart, lungs, rolled oats and other ingredients. In the UK Midlands faggots are made from ground or minced pig offal (mainly liver and cheek), bread, herbs and onion wrapped in pig's caul. Steak and kidney pie (typically featuring veal or beef kidneys) is widely known and enjoyed in Britain. Brawn is an English term for "head cheese" or the collection of meat and tissue found on an animal's skull (typically a pig) that is chilled and set in gelatin.
Iceland has its own version of both haggis and brawn. The Icelandic haggis called "slátur" (Slaughter) is made in two versions "Blóðmör" (Bloodlard); a sheep's stomach stuffed with a mixture of sheep's blood, rolled oats and cut up bits of sheep's fat, and "lifrarpylsa" (liver sausage) which consists of sheep stomach stuffed with a mixture of ground lamb's liver, rolled oats and cut up bits of sheep. The Icelandic brawn "Svið" is made from singed sheep heads and it is eaten either hot or cold off the bone or set in gelatin.
In Romania there is a dish similar to haggis called drob, which is served on Easter. Also, Romanian peasants make a kind of traditional sausages from pork offal, called caltabos. Also, a popular dish called ciorba de burta is similar to Shkembe chorba (from Turkish işkembe çorbası).
In Greece (and similarly in Turkey and Republic of Macedonia), splinantero consists of liver, spleen, and small intestine, roasted over an open fire. A festive variety is kokoretsi (from Turkish kokoreç, Macedonian kukurek): pieces of lamb offal (liver, heart, lungs, spleen, kidney and fat) are pierced on a spit and covered by washed small intestine wound around in a tube-like fashion. The kokoretsi is then roasted over coal fire. It is a traditional dish for Easter. Another traditional Easter food is mageiritsa: a soup made with lamb offal and lettuce in a white sauce. Tzigerosarmas (from Turkish ciğer sarması, meaning "liver wrap") and gardoumba are two varieties of splinantero and kokoretsi made in different sizes and with extra spices to improve the taste.
In Italy consumption of entrails and internal organs is quite widespread, among the most popular preparations are fried or stewed brain, boiled intestines (Trippa), often served with tomato sauce, lampredotto (the fourth stomach of the cow), boiled in broth and seasoned with parsley sauce and chili, liver (stir-fried with onions, roasted), kidneys, heart and coronaries (coratella or animelle), head, eyes, testicles of pig, several preparations are based on chicken entrails. In Sicily, many enjoy a type of sandwich called "pani ca meusa", or bread with spleen and caciocavallo cheese. In Brooklyn, New York, where it is also commonly eaten, it goes by the name of Vastedda.
In Spain the visceral organs are used in many traditional dishes but their use is falling out of favor with the younger generations. Among traditional dishes are callos (cow tripe, very traditional in Madrid and Asturias), liver (often prepared with onion), kidneys (often prepared with Sherry wine), brains,criadillas (bull's testicles) and cow's tongue.
In the French city of Marseille lamb's trotters and a package of lamb tripe are a traditional food under the name "pieds et paquets". In France chitterlings sausage is regarded as a delicacy called andouillette.
In Brazil, churrasco often includes chicken hearts, roasted in a big skewer. The typical feijoada sometimes contains pork trimmings (ears, feet and tail). Gizzard stews, fried beef liver and beef stomach stews used to be more popular dishes in the past, but are nonetheless still consumed.
In Argentina and Uruguay, the traditional Asado is often made along with several offal types (called "Achuras"), like chinchulines and tripa gorda (chitterlings), mollejas (sweetbread) and riñón (cow's kidney). Also, cow's brains ("sesos") are used to make ravioli stuffing, and the tongue is usually boiled, sliced and marinated with a mixture of oil, vinegar, salt, chopped peppers and garlic.
There is sometimes a perception of strange offal usages in traditional Chinese items. The roots of traditional Chinese medicine are a combination of Taoist and rural folk beliefs. The idea of essences and energy, heat and cold, are key. Snake blood wine with a live heart is thought to promote stamina due to the "essences of energy and heat", which is derived from a snake's attributes, such as aggressive behavior (fiery) and venom (energy). When bears were more common in the Chinese northeast, bears claw and dried bear offal were used as medicines, seen as a source of vitality. Dry deer antlers is still a common medicine, thought to provide "the essences of heat energy" to cure illnesses such as influenza and coughing. Peculiar items, such as eyes, brains and penises (especially the latter) are not popular in mainstream Chinese consumption. Pork brains were consumed and thought to promote intelligence (the folk belief that consumption of an organ enhanced the corresponding human organ or part), and Chinese often consume the fish's eyes in the famous Jiangnan dish called fish head stew or in other fish dishes, such as braised or steamed fish.
The Cantonese and Vietnamese consumed monkey brains, but this is now rare to non-existent, and primarily offered to rich, Western tourists. Strange items are more associated in the Chinese southeast, Vietnam and Southeast Asia, where the tropical diversity and use of exotic items captured the Westerner's imagination during the era of colonialism up to the Vietnam War and is still a target of interest for adventure-seeking Western tourists.
The Chinese mainland contains primarily more basic use of offal that is comparable to European usage. Beef tripe, for example is used as a cold appetizer mixed with soy sauce, sesame oil, chilies and other spices. Spanish, Portuguese (tripa à moda of Porto) and Eastern Europeans are some examples of European cultures where offal consumption is more common.
In Korea, offal usage is very similar to mainland China but less frequent. Grilled intestine slices and pork blood are both consumed. Medicinal usages are also similar to mainland China and less common with offal uses. Korea traditional medicine focuses more on simpler, herbaceous materials and plants, such as ginseng, jujube and ginger.
In Japan chicken offal is often skewered and grilled over charcoal as yakitori, to be served alongside drinks in an izakaya (Japanese food-pub). Offal originating from cattle is also an ingredient in certain dishes (see yakiniku). However, Japanese culture mostly disdains offal use from large animals due to the traditional Japanese preference for cleanliness, derived from Shinto purity beliefs. During the Sino-Japanese War, Japanese troops took pigs from Chinese farmers and slaughtered the animals only for the major muscles (no head, feet and fully disemboweled). Japanese do prefer to consume seafood offal, since seafood is considered to be much more sanitary and pure since salt and water are considered pure.
In the Philippines, people eat practically every part of the pig, including snout, intestines, ears, and innards. Dinuguan is a particular type of blood sausage or blood-stew (depending on region) made using pig intestines and sometimes ears, usually with a vinegar base, and green chili peppers. Bopis (bópiz in Spanish) is a spicy Filipino dish made out of pork lungs and heart sautéed in tomatoes, chilies and onions.
In India and Pakistan, the goat's brain (maghaz), feet (paeyr), head (siri), stomach (ojhari or but), tongue (zabaan), liver (kalayji), kidney (gurda), udder (kheeri) and testicles (kapooray) as well as chickens' heart and liver are enjoyed. One popular dish, Kata-Kat, is a combination of spices, brains, liver, kidneys and other organs.
In the state of Karnataka in southern India, a strong-smelling dish called rakhti, made of heavily spiced porcine offal and cartilaginous tissue, is considered a homely indulgence by the local Christian community (observant Muslims avoid pork products).
In Bangladesh, a goat's brain (magoze), feet (paya), head (matha), stomach skin (bhuri), tongue (zihba), liver (kalija), kidney and testicles are delicacies. Chickens' heart and liver are also enjoyed.
In Nepal, a goat's brain (gidi), feet (khutta), head (tauko), stomach skin (bhudri), tongue (jibro), liver (kalejo), kidney, lungs(phokso), fried intestines (aandra), fried solidified blood (ragati) and to a lesser extent testicles are considered delicacies and are in very high demand in Dashain when families congregate and enjoy them with whiskey and beer. Chickens' heart and liver are also enjoyed but it is chicken's gizzards that are truly prized.
In Lebanon, lamb brain is used in nikhaat dishes and sometimes as a sandwich filling. A tradition practiced less often today would be to eat fish eyes either raw, boiled, or fried. Another popular dish in the region surrounding is korouch which is rice-stuffed sheep intestine.
In Iran, sheep liver, heart and kidneys are used as certain types of kebab and have a high popularity among people, as well as sheep intestines and stomach, though the latter is boiled. Sheep brains and tongue, along side shins, as a type of breakfast, are boiled in water and eaten with traditional bread.
The offal of certain animals is unsafe to consume: