Vietnamese Caramelized Pork Belly with Shrimp’s Tomalley – Thit Ba Roi Kho Gach Tom

with shrimp

Vietnamese Caramelized Pork Belly with Shrimp Tomalley (Thit ba chi kho voi gach tom) is our family’s favorite dish to eat with rice for three generations now. This is one of the few Vietnamese home-style dish that I can proudly say I make it better than my mom.  If you love pork belly and you love shrimp, you must try this! This pictorial recipe documents how I cook this dish with pork belly and shrimp.  I’ve updated this recipe with side notes to show you my version without shrimp.

Note:  I cook this in a 10-inch non-stick pan. Use pan with black coating.

Ingredients(refer to pictures for visual amount) 

1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp fish sauce Viet Huong brand
1 Tbsp oil
1.5 Tbsp sugar
1 cup chopped scallion
1 cup of water
salt (to rub on shrimp)
black pepper to taste
1 lb pork belly 
1.5 lb jumbo size shrimp with tomalley
1/4 tsp coco caramel
2 Tbsp of red stuff in shrimps head (tomalley/gach tom) – This is precious stuff to me.  I save it up and freeze it until I have enough to make this dish.

Edited note: To make this without the shrimp, I use about 2 lb of pork belly.


1.  Prepping the jumbo size shrimp: Peel off the tail, pinch on the back near the tail to pull out the shrimp’s black crap. Leave partial shell on.  It cooks better with the shell on as the sauce caramelizes and traps in between the shell and the flesh.  When you bite into the shrimp, the sauce runs in your mouth. 
Carefully take off the shrimps’ head but still leaving the tomalley intact.

2.  This is the slab of pork belly I used to make with the shrimp version. Cut the pork into 1/5 inch thickness if you choose to cut smaller pieces, or about 1/6 inch thickness if you cut it a bit bigger. I used a Corelle cereal bowl as my measurement guide.  I just fill the meat and shrimp up and I know that’s enough.  Note:  When I make this dish without the shrimp, I would cut the pork belly 1/2 inch thick.

3.  In a little bowl, Chef Grace mixed in 2 Tbsp of shrimp tomalley. She added 1 Tbsp minced garlic, some black pepper,  2 Tbsp fish sauce, and 1.5 Tbsp sugar, and 2 Tbsp water.

4.  I coated the pork belly with coco caramel for coloring purposes (you don’t need it to make this dish).  It’s all for looks was what my mom would say.

5. Heat up 1 Tbsp oil in deep skillet, brown the pork belly for 2 minutes.  Stirring to evenly brown it.

6.  Add in the sauce mixture. Bring to boil on high. Then turn to medium low (#4 on my stove).

7.  As soon you turn heat to medium (#4), add in water just enough to completely cover the pork belly.  I simmered for about 30 minutes with the thin cuts.  Note: When I made the version with the pork belly only and had 1/2 inch thik cuts, I simmered the meat for about 40 minutes. Stir the meat occasionally. (I’m using a GE Spectra stove) Skip to step #10 if not using shrimp. 

8.  After thirty minutes,  I add in the jumbo shrimp. Cook for 2 minutes on medium high.  If you use the smaller size shrimp, it will be overcooked and the meat can be tougher and dryer to chew on.

9.  Flip the shrimp and cook for another 2 minutes.

10.  Lastly, add in the scallions. sprinkle in black pepper.  Cook for one minute on high and turn off stove. Serve.  Drizzle over jasmine rice.  Oh so yummy in my tummy!

I love watching my little foodie chef eat her favorite meal.  I hope your little ones will like it as much as she does too. =)

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One comment

  1. Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I love pork belly and this recipe was perfect. It reminds me so much of the Vietnamese comfort food my mom used to make when we were growing up. I used brown sugar instead of white sugar and also extra black pepper and adjusted the salt to my taste buds. My Caucasian husband even ate it! He said the sauce was very good. He's not a big fan of shrimp so more for me! �� I will use less black pepper next time because my kids cannot handle any spices since they are still young. I've also pinned this recipe to keep on my Pinterest board so I will have it to remember in case I forget how good it is. Thanks!

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