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Jun 26, 2007 08:51 AM

Local source for caul fat (PHX)?

I know I can order caul fat from Niman Ranch, but I'd like not to pay the $20 shipping charge. So, I'm wondering if anyone here knows where I might find it in or around Phx.

AJ's (Central Phx location) and Whole Foods (PV location) both say that they don't carry it. The person I spoke with at AJ's suggested I try Food City, so I'll pay my local branch a visit today.

Any ideas y'all might have would be appreciated.

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  1. I'd also try Phoenix Ranch Market, they carry just about every cut, I can't imagine they'd waste pork caul.

    10 Replies
    1. re: azhotdish

      Thanks--Phx Ranch and Phx Farms are definitely on my list of places to check. I inferred from AJ's response that markets that cater to a primarily Mexican/Central American clientèle would be the most likely sources.

      The person I spoke with at Hobe said he could order it for me, but only in 10 lb(!) increments, which would be OK if had another freezer sitting around.

      Almost every other place I've called (Midwestern Meats, Bob's Butcher Shop, Whole Foods) has said something along the lines of, "What? I don't know what you're talking about." [sigh]

      Now my challenge is to figure out how to say "caul" en español, just in case.

      Thanks again.

      1. re: hohokam

        I was just thinking do you say that in Spanish?

        I've never heard of caul fat - what exactly is it? I may be able to describe it to my mom and she'll have an old Spanish farm name for it.

        1. re: mamamia

          So far, I have "velo" or "crepineta" as potential Spanish names for caul.

          The caul is a thin, lacy, fatty membrane that encases the internal organs (stomach, intestines, etc) of an animal. Pork caul is used for wrapping pates and crepinettes.

          Second pic down on this page is caul:

        2. re: hohokam

          Might want to try the Pork Shop in Queen Creek as well, though it's a bit of a trek.

          Shreiner's may not sell it but they might be able to point you towards a source?

          1. re: ziggylu

            Queen Creek? Do they even have electricity out there? ;-)
            Thanks for the tip. I'll give them a call and see if they know of what I speak.

            I thought about asking Shreiner's too, but I figured they might only know of places that would see it in mass quantities. I like going there, so if I get desperate, I might drop in and pick their brains.

            "Call"? "Brains"? The opportunities for truly offal puns abound.

            1. re: ziggylu

              Follow-up on the Pork Shop...they've heard of it, but don't have it. Whoever answered the phone directed me to a slaughterhouse (Southwest Processing, I think). The slaughterhouse guy, however, *didn't* know what I was talking about. After I described it to him, he said they didn't have it.

              1. re: hohokam

                Sorry the Pork Shop didn't work out...but if you're ever bored it's definitely worth the trip out there!

                The slaughterhouse is up the street from them...i think they mostly process beef? Haven't stopped in yet so don't know how they're meat is.

                Sounds like LeeLee's might be your answer. What are you going to make wtih it once you find it?

                1. re: ziggylu

                  Based on an egullet (I think) post I just saw, the Pork Shop does look like a wonderland of meaty goodness. Maybe once I clear out my current backlog of charcuterie I've "imported" from the Bay Area, I can justify a trip down that way.

                  Now that I have a meat grinder, I'm itching to try out a couple of pâté recipes, and both call for lining the terrine/loaf pan with caul. I'm also eager to try my hand at making sausages, and right now forming crepinettes seems a little less intimidating than trying to stuff the forcemeat into casings.

                  1. re: hohokam

                    I'm impressed with you industry in this heat! Our kitchen gets so hot that for the last week it's all I've been able to do to chop a salad!

                    I know we used caul fat when I went through the culinary program over at SCC...if you end up not being able to get any I can call them and see who's supplying them, though it's probably in case qty as well.

            2. re: hohokam

              It's funny I tried to order Wild Boar from Hobe and they told me the same thing about I must order 10lbs. then I find out that they ordered it for someone else and they only took 5 lbs of it. So you might want to double check with them.

          2. LeeLee's has it, or at least they did last I looked, about a year ago.

            1 Reply
            1. re: themis

              Oops. Somehow your post sneaked right past me.

              That's great news--at least someone there might know what I'm talking about. I'll definitely check it out.

            2. How about the market at the Chinese Cultural Center? They've got some pretty exotic cuts of meat.

              6 Replies
              1. re: ajs228

                Sort of on my list, as I just read something somewhere (possibly on CH) that Asian or Mediterranean(?) markets might carry it. Anyone know how to say "caul" in Mandarin? ;-)

                1. re: hohokam

                  I agree with themis, Lee Lee is a great bet for it. It's located on the Northeast corner of Dobson and Warner and will usually have those items, and it is slightly larger than Ranch 99 in the Chinese Cultural Center.

                  You're better off learning Vietnamese if you go there though

                  1. re: nyomi

                    Lee Lee definitely sounds like a place to check out if I strike out at the places near me.

                    And for the linguistics geeks out there...

                    "The name for caul fat in many Chinese dialects is "net-fat" (Mandarin wang3-you2), because of its reticulated appearance. (The fat itself forms what look like a network of white filaments within the membrane that bears it.) I think this term is more likely to persist in Chinese than the English equivalent "caul fat" is in English, because few people today have ever seen any sort of caul. The vividness of a term depends on its referents."

                    1. re: hohokam

                      Here are the characters (traditional) for "net-fat" ("wăng yóu" in Mandarin)...hope this works!


                      If you're able to see the characters you might want to do a cut & paste, and then print (change the font size to the largest possible). You can show this at the meat counter as a last resort. 祝你好運!

                      1. re: Mr. Roboto

                        Ha! That's awesome! Let's hope it doesn't come to that. :-)

                  2. re: hohokam

                    Actually, based on what I saw there Sunday afternoon, you'd be fine with the Spanish word. Most of the employees and customers lining up at the butcher counter were speaking Spanish.

                2. Mini-update on the quest for caul...

                  Well, I struck out on the west side. People in some of the stores I tried (Food City, Phx Farms, Phx Ranch) had no idea what I was talking about, some even after I showed them pictures.

                  The guy I talked with at the meat counter in the Chinese Cultural Center supermarket said that he knew caul to be commonly sold in Mexico (or at least where he was from in Mexico, I guess), but he'd never seen it sold in the US.

                  My last stop of the day was at Rancho Grande (Central @ Broadway). At first, the meat counter guys didn't know what I was talking about. I then showed them pics, and they told me that they never had such an item on hand. One joked that maybe I should try in Tijuana or Nogales. The manager on duty was involved in the conversation--he suggested Lee Lee's as a couple of you had, and he gave me the number of his meat vendor. I'm not optimistic that the vendor will be of much help, but it was generous of the store manager to give me the lead.

                  So, all in all, tracking down the caul has been an educational, albeit mildly frustrating, experience. Looks like my next stop will most likely be Lee Lee's.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: hohokam

                    ok hohokam - i must step in here - i know that story about the $20 shipping charge was a total scam, because if you were really interested in the price, there's no way you'd venture around the valley to find this stuff. there's nothing wrong with wanting to go on a mini-tour - i can't blame you. though i must's a very strange pursuit. cheers.

                    1. re: azhotdish

                      I'd say that "incomplete explanation" is more accurate than "total scam".

                      None of the places I've visited so far are too terribly far from my home. So, if any of them were to carry the product, it clearly would be financially advantageous to me in the long-run. A couple of hours of legwork up front seems like a small investment to me, if I can cut the cost of the product by over 50%.

                      And, though I love what Niman Ranch does in terms of supporting humane and sustainable meat production, I'd like to be able support a local vendor if possible.

                      Finally, the legwork mentioned above has been productive in other ways. I've become acquainted with the offerings of several local markets and learned something about what kinds of products are available (and I guess, what's relatively less available). So, for example, even though the Pork Shop would be a bit of journey I'm glad I found out about the place even if they don't have this particular item. Truth be told, if *they* were the only local source, I might consider the mail order option.

                      Anyway, I hope that makes my motivation more clear even if it doesn't make my quest seem any less quixotic. ;-)

                      1. re: hohokam

                        makes sense to me. i almost started a similar pursuit to find a butcher that will fab a more authentic bistecca alla fiorentina, but after some self-evaluation, i decided my patience and nerves wouldn't be able to take too much discussion and explanation.

                        hope you find what you're looking for...i'd be interested hearing about how this project turns out. ;)