In part b/c of the recent discussion of banh mi writing on the side of Babylon that tries to front like it's down with Mt. Zion, the Cod elected to take a stab at making banh mi at home. Long story short -- they were good. Longer version -- it's a lot of work.
A la a Ruhlman scratch sandwich challenge, I decided to go as scratch as possible -- both terrines, the bread, the 5 spice for the terrines, the pickled carrots and daikon. (See picture at right, and apologies for the undercover -busting-a-cockfighting-ring quality of the images.)
I followed the basic outline of the Momofuku cook book banh mi reciept. (Yes, the aforementioned SE thing calls this version Ssam's $10 atrocity, but I might dissent.) It's hard to buy a baguette on a Sunday in the Cod's corner of the 864, (and harder to be excited about patronizing the local bakery any day, but I digress), so bread was part of the plan. I used this receipt, which was passable on a first attempt. I used a standing mixer, rather than a food processor, for the mixing, because the food processor would be occupied with the terrines. The Momo fresh ham terrine involves braising fresh ham (I used Boston butt) then blending the fat with garlic, and using that to stick the chunks of braised meat together. It worked better than I feared, though I'd be bolder with the seasoning next time. (With any terrine you plan to serve cold, it is almost impossible to overspice -- even with star anise, usually the Michael McDonald of the spice rack.*) The supposed-to-be smearier liver terrine I overcooked b/c of a cranky thermometer, but the flavor was solid. Next time out, I would feel a bit freer about which terrines I used -- the pork-cinnamon terrine in Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet, for instance, or a consult of favorites from Grigson's or Ruhlman's charcuterie books.
The daikon and carrot quick pickles were out of the Momo book, and quick and easy, assuming you have a mandoline or professional knife skills. If you don't have a Benriner, get one. You will cut yourself, but it is worth it. The mayo and the sirracha came from Dukes and Huy Fong, respectively. Kewpie, the mayo would be, in a perfect world, but I think home made mayo would have diminished the overall sammich.
Put all together, the results were good, if a bit labor intensive for a light dinner for two. The amount of terrine you generate is enough for many sandwiches, and same for the pickles, so the limiting reagent for feeding a lot of people would be a) access to decent baguettes in quantity, and b) access to friends who are excited about eating a Vietnamese sandwich with two kinds of cold cuts, pickled vegetables, cilantro, sirracha, and mayo. Except for adding or not adding hot peppers, the banh mi is a sandwich that does not take to trifling. Yes, there are three or four other variations that most banh mi places make, but as far as the classic, usually called "dac biet," goes, the composition is balanced in a way that means the sandwich stops making sense if you start making edits. If one were to serve these to a larger crew, the trick would be to deflect the people asking you to delete elements of the sandwich, I imagine.
*Indispensable in small doses, but overwhelming on its own.