Savoring the Outdoors & Vietnamese Breakfast Frittata Recipe
Savoring the Outdoors & Vietnamese Breakfast Frittata Recipe
Followers of Karissa and Linhbergh (@gondirtin) on social media already know the couple for the incredible camp meals that Linhbergh enjoys preparing and sharing on Instagram.
When the couple first started dating, they were eating out a lot and Karissa decided to start meal prepping to help them eat better. Linhbergh got more involved and started cooking by recalling what he had seen his mom prepare as a child — watching with a “kitchen-counter-eye view,” he says.
“Food plays a role in almost all immigrant families’ lives,” he adds. Linhbergh’s parents are first generation immigrants from Vietnam. “It doesn’t matter if you come from nothing — you come together and there’s always something, and that’s the food you share.”
Taking that love of cooking outdoors made sense.
“We wanted to eat well, and when we were out there, we couldn’t get what we craved,” he says. “Outside, I will cook something like a humble Vietnamese dish but to a lot of people it’s more complicated. It’s a delight, and it’s delicious.”
Some of his favorite meals include Korean army stew, a one-pot dish; Japanese shabu-shabu; and a simple lunch of rice with a protein like chicken, kimchi (a Korean dish with salted, fermented vegetables), and eggs. “He also makes a mean sandwich,” adds Karissa.
The couple also owns a Dometic CFX3 55 powered cooler which makes cooking outdoors easier because they’re able to bring along all the ingredients they need.
“We used to have an ice chest and everything would get wet,” says Karissa. “We don’t use the ice maker that often but when we do it’s such a treat. Or we stick two ice cream bars in there.”
“And we LOVE the new Dometic GO Faucet,” says Linhbergh. “There's nothing more luxurious than running water whenever you're camping. It just makes things like doing dishes to washing your face at night so much better. It makes you feel like a human, even when you're completely covered in dust.”
Savoring the Outdoors
“My love for the outdoors came from growing up with my family,” says Linhbergh. “After my parents come over from Vietnam they missed being outdoors. So we went out hiking and went to mountains, forests, and beaches — that was something they felt they needed when they came over.”
Karissa also discovered her love for the outdoors at an early age. “I grew up in the country outside. My grandparents had a little farm and nature was always a big part of my life,” she says. When she moved from Texas to California, she found respite outside. “When I moved to San Francisco, I was super homesick and being outside was my time to walk and reflect and to see these beautiful places. It was my way of recentering and my way of coping with missing home,” she says.
So, it’s not surprising that the two spend as much time outside as they can. “We leave to disconnect and get away,” says Karissa. “We’re both commercial automotive photographers and there’s a lot of hustle and bustle with set life and production life. Being able to disconnect and be in nature is truly cathartic.”
The pair met in Detroit on a photo shoot, and they’ve been together for nearly eight years. They’ve had three vehicles since then — a Lexus, a Mitsubishi Montero, and their latest, a Toyota Land Cruiser Troop Carrier, or Troopy. It took a while to source the Troopy, and after it arrived, they spent several months building it out.
A Family Affair
The couple has two dogs: Kyia, and Stella, who love the outdoors as much as their parents. “They love going out camping,” says Karissa. “We have to pace it, so they don’t get too excited before we leave. When we say, ‘want to go on an adventure,’ they get really excited.”
Despite — or rather because of — their lifestyle, they make the outdoors a priority. “We just take any window when we see nothing’s scheduled on the calendar,” says Karissa. “We do a lot of jobs together — he’ll be my lighting assistant or vice versa … we’ll see what our schedules look like and what jobs we have to take and go from there.
“It’s like a creative recharge,” she adds. “You don’t have the distraction of a computer all the time. It’s a simpler life where you have the chance to slow down. There’s nothing to do but hike or make an awesome meal or sit around and read a book.”
Linhbergh loves the silence of the outdoors. “As an introvert, the silence speaks to me so much,” he says. “I sleep better, I eat better. That sort of silence is so rare. There’s always noise in the city but when we get far enough out, there’s nothing but maybe a rustle in the tree.”
Vietnamese Breakfast Frittata with Side Salad
Karissa and Linhbergh shared their favorite breakfast frittata recipe with us.
“Frittatas can be a very same-same affair. Everyone loves the frittata camp breakfast staple of bacon, potatoes, and cheese. It’s easy, and well, it's delicious. But every so often, an injection of something different goes a long way. The Vietnamese have a steamed egg dish called chả trứng hấp that is enjoyed with rice. This is my take combining that humble Viet dish and the frittata.”
- 8 eggs
- ¼ cup milk
- ½ cup cha lua, or Vietnamese pork sausage (pork belly, ground pork, bologna sliced meat, or bacon can be used as a substitute)
- 1 shallot
- a small handful of cilantro
- 2 green onions,
- 1 tbsp of fish sauce
- ½ cup mozzarella
- 1 tbsp of cooking oil
Tomatillo Fish Sauce:
- 4-5 medium tomatillos
- 1 serrano chili, or 1 jalapeño
- 1 medium shallot
- a small handful of mint
- a handful of cilantro
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil (optional)
- Vietnamese pickled carrots and radishes
- spring mix
- olive oil
- fried shallots (optional)
Tomatillo Fish Sauce: Make Ahead of Camping
If you have a portable food processor, making the sauce is a very easy process. A smoothie maker will do just fine. If not, you can use a mortar and pestle, or chop everything up incredibly fine by hand then mix all the ingredients up in a bowl.
To make the sauce, remove the wrapping from the 4-5 medium sized tomatillos and give them a quick rinse. Place the tomatillos at the bottom of the food processor, then add a roughly chopped medium sized shallot, roughly chopped serrano chili, a small handful of mint and cilantro, 3 tbsp of fish sauce, and 3 tbsp of sugar. Blend until you get a nice salsa verde consistency. Taste to adjust any seasoning. The salt, sweetness, and acidity should be perfectly balanced. No flavor should over power the other.
Set aside in a bowl and let the flavors mingle.
Frittata: Make At Camp
Chop the ½ cup of the Vietnamese pork sausage, cha lua, into 3-inch slivers about a ¼ inch thick. Pork belly, ground pork, bologna deli meat, or bacon can be used as a substitute if Vietnamese pork sausage cannot be found. Proceed to thinly slice the medium-sized shallot, and the 2 green onions.
In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the 8 eggs, then combine the ¼ cup of milk, ½ of the diced green onions, and 1 tbsp of fish sauce. Continue to beat until all the ingredients are evenly incorporated.
Add 1 tbsp of cooking oil to a skillet. Turn the heat on to medium-high. When the oil in the skillet starts to simmer, add in the diced shallots. Sauté the shallots until they start to become translucent. Then add in the ½ cup of diced Vietnamese pork sausage. Continue to sauté until the sausage starts to get some color on some of the corners or sides.
Set the stove’s heat to medium-low and pour in the egg mixture. Sprinkle the egg mixture with the ½ cup of shredded mozzarella. Cover the skillet and let everything cook thoroughly. You’ll know that the frittata is cooked when the whole thing has puffed up to twice its size.
Take it off the heat and let it cool.
Side Salad: Make At Camp
The side salad is best put together whenever you’re ready to serve. Place a cooled slice of frittata on your plate, then a handful of spring mix, 5-6 mint leaves, then a squirt of olive oil, a dash of lime juice, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. No need to mix together.
Finish off the frittata with some of the Vietnamese pickled carrots and radishes, the (optional) fried shallots, and a good spoonful of the Tomatillo fish sauce.
And now, it’s ready to be devoured. Enjoy!