Tom Rang Thit Ba Chi Caramelized Shrimp Pork Belly

Tom rang thit ba chi has many names: thit rang, thit rim, tom thit rim, thit ba roi rang tom; but it’s essentially caramelized pork and shrimp and is a fundamental dish in almost all vietnamese house holds. It’s akin to meatballs and spaghetti or macaroni and cheese to Italian and American cuisines. Served with bowl of hot jasmine rice, pickled mustard greens, and soup of the day, it would be like our family’s pizza night, if we had it growing up. It’s the fall back recipe when mom didn’t feel like making anything special in the kitchen.  But of course, she knew we all LOVED this dish and I’m certain had no guilt about her lack of menu diversification or the fact we might have had this dish 1, 2, or even 3 weeks in a row.

We love it not only because it contains two ingredients we love: pork belly and shrimp, but it also displays a fundamental technique we love, and that’s caramelization.  Who wouldn’t love pork belly thats rendered and caramelized to a crisp like bacon, along with sweet, succulent shrimp?

We’ve talked about caramelization before with ga kho, ca kho to, and thit kho and all of these dishes highlight the fact that caramelization can be done in a variety of ways from making a caramel sauce by browning sugar to using the natural sugars of coconut juice in a long braise.  In tom rang thit ba chi (or ba roi, as southerners would say), the simple combination of sugar and fish sauce and pork fat renders magic. We often highlights regional dishes from the northern, central, and southern regions Vietnam to point out the diversity of Vietnamese cuisine. But tom rang thit ba chi however is one dish that you can find in any household, in any village, and in any part of the country.

tom rang thit

A humble and classic Vietnamese family dish that any parent would be proud to serve. Come to think of it, I don’t think we ever really missed out on never having those pizza nights.

Tom Rang Thit Ba Chi (Caramelized Shrimp and Pork Belly)

To thinly slice skin on pork belly, freeze for about 30 min to 1 hour.


1/2 lb thinly sliced skin on pork belly, 1 inch wide and like thick cut bacon in thickness
1 tbs fish sauce
2 tbs sugar
1 medium shallot, minced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2-4 tbs water
1/2 lb medium sized shrimp, shell on
fresh ground pepper


Make a quick marinade of pork, fish sauce and sugar and mix well. In large thick cast iron skillet under medium low heat, add oil, minced shallots and garlic till fragrant. Add pork belly stirring occasionally—this is where you have to be patient and let the caramelization process work—-render the fat and as meat releases it’s juices, render that down. If the pan gets dry, and a tbs of water at a time and scrape the bottom of the pan to release the fond and all the delicious bits. Continue to stir and render and caramelize the pork and add water by the tablespoon full as needed until the color is dark brown. Add the shrimp at the end and cook until shrimp is done. Adjust seasoning to taste with fish sauce and sugar, if needed.

Finish with generous amount of freshly cracked pepper. Enjoy with steaming hot rice, side of pickled mustard greens, and home style soup.

*Cooks note: A leaner cut of pork butt can be used but might be tad dryer so reduce cooking time if using. Some prefer the pork to be almost crispy on verge of burnt, if so, simply extend the the cooking time of the pork and render over low heat. Peeled shrimp can be used, but add near the very end as it would take least time to cook. By the end of cooking, the liquid will be nearly completely reduced. If you like a little sauce, add another few tbs water at the end and deglaze the pan, and season as needed.

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35 Responses to “Tom Rang Thit Ba Chi Caramelized Shrimp Pork Belly”

  1. 1

    Peter M — April 17, 2011 @ 12:23 am

    This is a knock-out dish, you rendered the belly nicely and it looks juicy, crisp and tender all at once.

  2. 2

    Ravenous Couple — April 17, 2011 @ 12:45 am

    @peter: yes, some like to render it to be like crispy bacon, while some like it still soft and chewy, to each their own, but we do prefer the crispy version 🙂

  3. 3

    SKIP TO MALOU — April 17, 2011 @ 1:44 am

    You're right some people like it tender and juicy while others crispy. I think I always love to have both! What a perfect combo, the pork belly strips look like bacon themselves OMG, I want some!


  4. 4

    Peggy — April 17, 2011 @ 2:44 am

    Yum! Simple and delicious – just the way I like my meals!

    I've never tried pairing pork belly with shrimp before, but it sounds like a beautiful combo!

  5. 5

    Connie — April 17, 2011 @ 3:48 pm

    Good heavens, "pizza night" at your family's place sounds incredible!

  6. 6

    OysterCulture — April 18, 2011 @ 2:22 am

    Oh my, this looks amazing. I will have to make this soon. I was in a cooking rut last week and dreaming of something like this, now if only I had had your recipe.

  7. 7

    chopinandmysaucepan — April 18, 2011 @ 7:38 am

    It's the humble dishes that are the best and most fondly remembered too!

  8. 8

    Platanos, Mangoes and Me! — April 18, 2011 @ 1:35 pm

    I can have this ever other day also. Beautifully executed.

  9. 9

    Lemons and Lavender — April 18, 2011 @ 3:54 pm

    Do you guys deliver?! Wow! That looks incredible! Can't wait to try it.

  10. 10

    Ravenous Couple — April 18, 2011 @ 4:14 pm

    @malou: my sister likes it burned to a crisp!

    @connie: this was mom's "have no idea waht to cook" dish

    @oysterculture @chopinandmysaucepan @platanos, mangoes and me: thank you!

  11. 11

    Debby — April 18, 2011 @ 9:20 pm

    who needs pizza when you can have THIS?!??!?!??! amazing images. I'm going to make it tonight, just because I saw the pics. =)

  12. 12

    Papacheong — April 27, 2011 @ 5:19 am

    the nice picture you have been putting up but my outcome is never as nice as yours.


  13. 13

    Kevin (Closet Cooking) — May 3, 2011 @ 6:00 pm

    This looks like a really nice way to enjoy some pork belly and shrimp!

  14. 14

    Jean (Lemons and Anchovies) — May 5, 2011 @ 7:43 am

    Whenever I come here to pay a visit it never fails that I’ll leave hungry–no matter what time of day it is. I already liked Vietnamese food before but the recipes you post have intensified my liking for it even more.

    I would choose this caramelized pork belly (and shrimp) dish over pizza ANY day! You were the lucky one getting to enjoy this growing up. 🙂

  15. 15

    Tania — May 10, 2011 @ 12:51 pm

    Delicious! I love shrimps and this ones look perfect. Do you think they will be good with some garlic sauce too?

  16. 16

    Lara Schneider — May 27, 2011 @ 1:22 pm

    Looks amazing! Your photography is so stellar, very inspiring!

  17. 17

    Jen — June 16, 2011 @ 8:38 pm

    Thanks for the recipe guys! Just made it and it’s delicious. Totally tastes like how my mom made it and it totally made my day.

  18. 18

    The Ravenous Couple — June 16, 2011 @ 8:42 pm

    that’s what we love to hear, thanks for sharing!

  19. 19

    Justbeverly — June 22, 2011 @ 8:10 am

    Recipe looks great and doesn’t seem too difficult to attempt. Can’t wait to try this recipe out on my husband. He loves Vietnamese anything!

  20. 20

    Yang ingin dicoba « Amatir Memasak — July 20, 2011 @ 12:31 pm

    […] Pork belly and shrimp, sounds deli! […]

  21. 21

    Pork: The Vietnamese Way — October 19, 2011 @ 8:46 pm

    […] we like for thit nuong and nem nuong. Thịt ba chỉ (pork belly) is great for thit kho or just pan fried, the sườn (ribs) are great for sườn xào chua ngọt, the loin and tenderloin is great for […]

  22. 22

    Ny — October 23, 2011 @ 9:06 pm

    I just made this and it turned out delicious! Great recipe!

  23. 23

    Hangeroo — November 15, 2011 @ 12:30 am

    I made this recipe for the first time this month and it came out great! Didn’t know it was so easy. (well, sawing through pork skin was NOT easy, in fact, it could be deemed dangeroous! LOL). I usually cook dishes from all the globe, but only put in half-hearted attempts at Vietnamese cuisine, so this was a great accomplishment for me. Yay me! LOL! I feel much more confident in cooking Vietnamese food now. The food does bring back good memories of childhood. Thank you so much for putting up the recipes and laying out the descriptions in such a user friendly way.

  24. 24

    Sallios — January 16, 2012 @ 8:24 pm

    I just made this for dinner tonight and my fiance loved it! I really enjoy reading the blog and trying out the recipes. Thank you!!

  25. 25

    Tung N. — January 31, 2012 @ 3:01 pm

    You folks have an excellent blog here with wonderful pictures and recipes. We look forward to seeing it grow. Thanks for making it happen.

  26. 26

    Caramelized pork | Bestofcorpusch — May 3, 2012 @ 10:12 am

    […] Tom Rang Thit Ba Chi Caramelized Shrimp Pork BellyApr 17, 2011 … Tom rang thit ba chi (caramelized shrimp and pork belly) served with bowl of hot jasmine rice, pickled mustard greens, and soup of the day … […]

  27. 27

    nick — August 9, 2012 @ 2:15 pm

    Me and my honey tried this one today, added a little extra fish sauce and substituted the sugar with organic honey, delicious

  28. 28

    Food Rut and Adventures in Vietnamese Cooking? : hey, love — September 5, 2012 @ 9:35 am

    […] theravenouscouple.local via Michelle on […]

  29. 29

    Abba — March 24, 2013 @ 10:40 am

    When you say fish sauce.. do you mean the stuff you buy from the store? or the fish sauce used for the vermicelli noodles???

  30. 30

    The Ravenous Couple — March 28, 2013 @ 4:34 pm

    yes, from the bottle, not nuoc mam cham, the prepared version with lime etc

  31. 31

    Caramelized Pork Belly - Doodles and Cents — April 29, 2013 @ 6:12 am

    […] Caramelized pork belly is a typical Asian dish.  I also like the Japanese counterpart.  I think this is where I got the idea of using honey instead of sugar.  I tend to cook a modified Vietnamese style, wherein I like to add ginger and garlic.  (Check out Ravenous Couple’s Caramelized pork belly and shrimp recipe.) […]

  32. 32

    Chichiko — May 16, 2013 @ 3:58 pm

    I was very excited to try this recipe… unfortunately I could not get the dish to carmelize. I think possibly due to: 1) the thinness of the pork belly was not consistant due my lack of knife skills -LoL, 2) I removed the shells from the shrimp for easier enjoyment :D. Lastly, my bf does not like fat, so I fried the pork belly longer to get rid of as much fat as possible… afterwards my pork belly was so dark colored- LoL, it looked almost unappetizing (it was black)! Anyhow, I went to the market and saw thin sliced pork belly, which I think I will use when I try this recipe again ;-; Q: Is it possible to get carmalization w/o the shell on shrimps? Was my oil not hot enough? Err…

  33. 33

    Chichiko — May 16, 2013 @ 3:59 pm

    I mean it wasn’t black! I didn’t burn it, it was just very crisp dark brown color… >_<!

  34. 34

    chashans — March 27, 2014 @ 12:56 am

    I am confused…you do not say when to add the marinade.

  35. 35

    The Ravenous Couple — April 4, 2014 @ 10:33 am

    the sliced pork, fish sauce, and sugar is the quick marinade..just combine them.

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