Tom Rim (Vietnamese Caramelized Shrimp)

Shrimp… I would have never thought in a million years I would enjoy it. The texture of shrimp doesn’t settle well with me. I realized how wrong I was after having this dish!! Maybe I had a bad batch, who knows!

Tom Rim, Vietnamese Caramelized Shrimp, looked so appetizing, I had to try it for myself.  I did my digging and found a few recipes online. Read each one and went at it!


The caramel sauce is called nuoc mau, which is a very popular marinade, sauce, and cooking ingredient in Vietnamese food. The direct translation of nuoc mau is “colored water” (Takes about 10 minutes to make).

Tom Rim (Vietnamese Caramelized Shrimp)

Servings: 4 servings

Total Time: 35 minutes


2 Tbsp. Sugar (I used Dark Brown Cane Sugar)

1/2 cup Water

1 Tbsp. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

2 Shallots (diced)

3-4 Garlic Cloves (depends on what you like)

1 tsp. Ginger (minced)

1 Chili (I used a serrano pepper since I didn’t have a Thai pepper)

1 lb. Shrimp (peeled, deviened, fresh)

2 Tbsp. Fish Sauce

salt and pepper to taste

1 Tsp Sesame Oil

2 Tbsp Cilantro (fresh, chopped)


In a heavy bottom pot, heat the sugar up with 1/4 cup of water on medium high until the sugar becomes dark brown (caramelized).

Then add the other 1/4 cup of water slowly to the caramelized sugar (Be careful — the caramel sauce tends to foam up, so add the water slowly).

Once you think the sugar is completely melted, take the pot off the heat and set aside.

In a skillet or large pan, heat up the olive oil. Add the shallots, ginger, garlic, and chili, tossing them around for about 5 minutes.

When the shallots are translucent, add the shrimp, 3 tbsp. of the caramelized sauce, fish sauce, and black pepper. Let this simmer until the shrimp is cooked (pinkish all over) about 3 minutes or so each side (depends on the power of your stove)


Remove the shrimp from the heat and toss in the sesame oil and cilantro. Serve hot! I chose to serve it on a mix of pastas tossed in soy sauce and hoisin sauce. It was a nice complement!



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