Vietnamese Sauteed Prawns in Roe / Tomalley Sauce (Tom Kho Tau Gach Do)
Vietnamese sauteed prawns in roe sauce (Tom Kho Tau Gach Do) is a quick traditional home cooking recipe that is sure to delight. It’s a sweet, savory and a beautifully presented dish that goes wonderfully with steamed rice. The best part of this dish is that everything, from start to finish, takes about 30 minutes. This makes it my family’s go-to recipe after a long day at work and you want something quick on the dinner table.
For this recipe, you want to use freshwater prawns or large shrimp (size 21/25 or lower) with heads. The head fat, technically called tomalley is the “roe” in this recipe. It’s the tomalley that gives this dish its beautiful orange color. I cheated a bit by using a bit of annatto oil to further brighten up the dish with the orange hue but that’s totally optional. If you can’t find large freshwater prawns or jumbo shrimp and can only get your hands on tiny shrimp, you might want to try my other recipe, Vietnamese caramelized shrimp (Tom Rim).
You can find large freshwater prawns in the frozen section at Asian markets. Usually they come in large frozen rectangular slabs. The best way to defrost the prawns is to simply take the frozen slab and drop it on cement. That’s correct. Just go outside and drop it like it’s hot on cement. This breaks it apart into individual prawns. After that, soak the prawns in water to quickly defrost. It’s a gangsta way of defrosting prawns but it works beautifully. Not to mention, it’s a great way to take out aggression. Just make sure to wash the prawns before use!
I prefer leaving the tail and head on for this recipe. Not only does it provide a prettier presentation but it adds much more flavor to the dish. However, you can remove the heads and tail if preferred. Simply collect the roe in a small bowl to add to the sauce. Recipe below. Enjoy!
Vietnamese Sauteed Prawns in Roe/Tomalley Sauce (Tom Kho Tau Gach Do)
- 2 lbs prawns with heads (about 30)
- 2 teaspoons chicken or mushroom stock powder
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 4 green onions/scallions (slice; separate whites and greens)
- 4 garlic cloves (peel and mince)
- 2 shallots (peel and mince)
- 2 tablespoons annatto oil
- 1/4 cup coconut soda
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Peel the body of the prawns and devein. Trim off pointy spear at the top of the head, clip off eyes, whiskers and the little legs along the underside of the prawn. I like to keep the tail and head. However, you can remove both heads and tails if preferred. If removing heads, scoop out the head fat and transfer it to the small bowl.
- Marinate prawns with chicken stock powder, sugar, fish sauce, whites of scallions, half of minced garlic and half of minced shallot for at least 30 minutes.
- In a large skillet with a lid, heat annatto oil on medium high. Add remaining shallot and garlic. Saute until fragrant.
- Add marinated prawns and all its liquid. Add water or coconut soda and use a spoon to press down the head to release the head fat into the sauce. If not using heads, simply add head fat here and mix it into the sauce. Cover skillet with a lid and cook the prawns until it turns opaque and pink (about 2-3 minutes)
- Transfer to a serving plate and garnish with the reserved green part of the scallions and ground black pepper.