Vodka 5-Spice Marinade (Ruou Thom)

This Vodka 5-Spice Marinade is easy to make and a must-have seasoning.  It works wonderfully with all types of meats and seafood.  Add a splash to noodles and veggie stir-fries to perk up the flavors.  I love the fragrant yet subtle taste.  Go ahead and make a few extra bottles and give them to your family and friends.  They will love it!

Vodka 5-Spice Marinade | recipe from

Check out these yummy recipes using the Vodka 5-Spice Marinade:

Asian-Style Beef Short Ribs (Suon Nuong)
Roast Duck (Vit Quay)
Grilled Pork Patties and Skewers (Thit Nuong)
Grilled Pork Sandwich (Banh Mi Thit Nuong)
Sizzling Shaken Beef (Bo Luc Lac)
Savory and Sweet Sautéed Chicken
Crispy Noodle and Beef Stir-Fry (Mi Xao Gion/Don)

Watch the video for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like:  Vietnamese Fish Sauce Dipping Sauce (Traditional Recipe) (Nuoc Mam Cham) and Caramel Sauce (Nuoc Mau).


2 cups vodka
1 tangerine
1 cinnamon stick
5 star anise
10 cloves
20 peppercorns


Peel the skin from the tangerine and place by a sunny window.  Allow the skin to dry for a day.

Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Add all spices and toast in pan for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Take a 3×3 inch section of the tangerine skin and cut into thin strips. Pour vodka into a glass bottle filling it almost to the top.  Drop in the tangerine strips and toasted spices. Fill the bottle to the top with vodka and securely seal with a cap.

Allow the spices to infuse in the vodka for at least 30 days.

Store the marinade in your cupboard for no longer than 1 year.

Yields:  2 cups

The Essential Asian Five Spices | recipe from






Vodka 5-Spices Marinade | recipe from
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28 Responses to Vodka 5-Spice Marinade (Ruou Thom)

  1. lulu May 16, 2017 at 10:12 am #

    hello,Trang! it’s very nice to meet your recipes online and i like your recipes very much .They are very creative and yummy. Forgive me for asking a few questions regarding to this recipe. In your recipes, the “ingredients” for “5-spice marinade” you mentioned above,”1 cinnamon stick,5 star anise,10 cloves,20 peppercorns”means “ounce?gram ?or a few grain of?” Waiting for your reply and wishes all satisfactorily pleasant!

    • Trang May 16, 2017 at 10:16 pm #

      Hi lulu,
      For the Vodka this recipe, the numbers are for the count of each ingredient to use. For example, use 1 cinnamon stick, 5 dried star anise flowers, 10 cloves and 20 peppercorns are the individual pods and seeds–the count doesn’t have to be exact and you can eye-ball it. I hope that helps. If you have further questions, please let me know. Good Luck and enjoy the recipe!

  2. lee March 11, 2015 at 8:16 pm #

    Hi co Trang,

    I love all your recipes, they are very specific and easy to follow. This Vodka 5-spice Marinade looks simple to make but yet seems a lot of people like it. I already bought all the ingredients for it. But I wonder if I need to keep this Vodka 5 spice in the refrigerator or not? And could I store it the Olive Oil Dispenser that has the pourer or do I need to use the one that has a cap? Thanks co.

  3. Lucy January 22, 2015 at 10:00 am #

    Hi Trang, I just stumbled upon your website through a friend and I’m so excited to have found it! I don’t cook enough Vietnamese food at home and I’ve been wanting to do more of that! You had me at nem nuong cuon. We only get that when we go to Orange County. I’ve never heard of ruou thom before, didn’t even know Vietnamese recipes were made with it! I am curious to try it though. Do you happen to know if general supermarkets carry star anise? The closest 99 ranch is 25 min away :/ also, can I find the roasted rice powder and others at 99 ranch? Looking forward to making some delicious food and impress my parents! Haha

    • Trang January 22, 2015 at 12:23 pm #

      Hi Lucy,
      I am glad you found some recipes you’d like to try for your parents…lol. Ruou thom is an ingredient I use quite often in marinades. It gives meat lots of flavor. You can find star anise in the American grocery store in the spices section. (It’s more expensive here, of course.) You can also find star anise at the Mexican grocery stores and they’re sold in small cellophane pouches along with the other spices. I haven’t had much luck with finding roasted rice powder at 99 Ranch Markets. It’s an ingredient I can only find at the Vietnamese grocery stores. You can make it yourself. It’s pretty simple if you have a food processor or spice grinder. Let me know if you have any other questions 🙂

  4. Kim Le December 31, 2014 at 11:10 am #

    Dear Trang,
    I add a little bit of this to the marinate of my meats, it does improve the flavor greatly. All your recipes I have tried are excellent. Thank you so much for sharing.
    Kim Le

    • Trang January 3, 2015 at 11:06 am #

      Hi Kim,
      I am so glad to hear you like the marinade. It’s my staple ingredient for marinating meats and stir-fries. Everyone always asks me what’s the spice I use because it’s so fragrant. 🙂

  5. Ha Pham November 9, 2014 at 9:15 am #

    Hello Trang,
    I have been waching many many YouTube cooking show, I’m 63 years old , l has more than 4 restaurants business before, soon as I found runawayrice’s receipes I’m so happy , I’m very much anjoy cooking more .your way of cooking so simple , so neat , so honest, so well knowledge, surly result, so wonderful ! We are so luky to have you around us .this is my frist time having comments in YouTube cooking show , your show .Thankfully to you Trang.Ha Pham (retired restaurant business)

    • Trang November 9, 2014 at 10:47 pm #

      Chao Bac Ha,
      Thank you for visiting my website and sharing such kind words. Having owned 4 restaurants I think you must be an expert on food and cooking and I am honored that you enjoy my recipes and videos. Wishing you much health and happiness! 🙂

  6. Lynn July 23, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

    Can’t wait to try this~and I’d like to make it now (July) to give as gifts at Christmas time. I was wondering, after the 30 days, do you remove the spices? If I leave the spices in, will the marinade continue to get darker? Will it become to strong?


    • Trang July 23, 2014 at 10:10 pm #

      Hi Lynn,

      You don’t need to remove the spices after 30 days. The spices will continue to soak in the vodka and the marinade gets darker and stronger but the flavor won’t be overwhelming as we don’t use a lot of spices in the overall recipe. They make great gifts and your family and friends will love it! Good Luck and let me know if you have any questions.

  7. Kiwi Le June 26, 2014 at 9:27 am #

    Hi Trang,

    YOu’re fantastic! i love your blog! For this particular recipe, can I use cooking wine instead of vodka?


    • Trang June 27, 2014 at 11:11 am #

      Hi Kiwi,
      Thank you for the nice comments. You can use a cooking wine but I suggest using one that doesn’t have a lot of strong flavorings as it may compete with the spices used in this recipe. A white cooking wine or Mirin (a sweeter wine) would be good. Good Luck and please feel free to share your results.

      • Kiwi June 27, 2014 at 1:07 pm #

        Thanks Trang! I’m making this so a month later i can do “shaky beef”. the one you had on your blog. 🙂

        • Trang June 28, 2014 at 10:19 pm #

          Hi Kiwi,
          Great! This marinade is a really nice staple ingredient. I use it a lot in my meat marinades and stir-frys. I hope you love it as much as I do! 🙂

  8. Johnny D July 27, 2013 at 1:00 pm #


    New follower and big fan of the site. Glad to see it growing.

    Couple of questions for you; tangerines seem to be scarce where I live so is there any other citrus I can use? Also, I tried looking for this Ruou Thom marinade on Google just to learn more about it but could not find anything. Is this your own creation? I cannot wait to try it and I am just curious on its origination etc. Thanks again.


    • Trang July 27, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

      Hi Johnny,

      Any citrus fruit will work just fine so feel free to substitute with navel or mandarin oranges, lemons, etc. This marinade is my Mom’s creation. It’s a spin on the 5-spice powder with a twist–the Vodka. Often in Asian cooking we use dry seasonings with a sweet cooking wine and this marinade is a combination of the two. I am not exactly sure of its origin but I have seen similar recipes online. I recently made another batch and made extra for my family and friends. They make great gifts. Thank you for checking out my website and Happy Cooking!

      • Johnny D July 27, 2013 at 3:49 pm #


        Thanks so much for replying back. I want to get this started asap so it can infuse.

        Kind regards,


        • Trang July 30, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

          My pleasure! Feel free to share your results.

        • Trang August 5, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

          Good luck and feel free to share your results 🙂

  9. Tuan June 27, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

    Hello Trang,

    I love your recipes! For this particular one, I was wondering where do you get your bottles from. I’m trying to look online for some but I am having a difficult time finding one for a reasonable pricing. It might be because I am looking up bottles to make vanilla extracts… LOL. Any help will be greatly appreciated. 🙂

    • Trang June 28, 2013 at 9:04 am #

      Hello Tuan,

      Thank you! I am glad to hear you like my recipes. The bottle I used is an oyster sauce bottle. (I love to recycle and reuse!) If you don’t have any empty bottles you may want to buy an inexpensive bottle of sauce and dump the contents. Soy sauce bottles work well too and are cheap. If you would like to spend a bit more I like the olive oil dispensing bottles. Here’s a link
      The dispensing nozzle is really nice.
      You can also find these bottles at Walmart or Target.
      Good Luck and Happy Cooking!

      • Tuan June 29, 2013 at 1:16 am #

        Thank you so much Trang!! I can’t wait to try this! I plan on making one for myself and one for my mom to use in her home cooking. 🙂

        • Trang June 29, 2013 at 6:18 am #

          Hi Tuan,

          You are so sweet! I hope your Mom loves it. If you have any other questions, please feel free to reach out to me.

  10. Kim March 19, 2013 at 12:29 am #

    I got the other ingredients to make Vodka spice but what are cloves, and where I can buy them? Thank you.

    • Trang March 19, 2013 at 8:04 am #

      Hi Kim,

      Cloves are the dried flower buds from the clove tree. They can be found in the spice section of most grocery stores: Albertsons, Von’s, Ralph’s, etc. McCormick, Spice Island, M&B are some of the brands selling cloves. 99 Ranch or most Mexican grocery stores also sell this spice and they are packaged in little heat-sealed plastic bags with other bulk spices. Be sure to buy the whole cloves and not the ground version. Cloves are also used in making Pho and I’ll share this recipe soon. Please let me know if you have any further questions. Thanks!

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