On the planet of delicacy meals, few benefit from the degree of fame or notoriety because the durian. Typically known as the “king of fruits,” the tropical crop conjures up widespread fervor, particularly in its native Southeast Asia, the place it seems in numerous dishes like shaved ice, desserts, cream puffs, and even pizza. Even individuals who don’t essentially know how you can lower a durian’s famously powerful outer shell are accustomed to the decadence of the flesh inside.
It’s onerous to overlook one’s first encounter with durian. After I was in center faculty, I noticed one on my uncle’s kitchen counter and couldn’t look away, intimidated by the massive fruit’s menacingly spiked husk. However as soon as he cracked open the powerful exterior and scooped the sleek flesh out of the hull, I sampled a small spoonful—and was spellbound. The fruit was so creamy and buttery that it tasted virtually like custard. My uncle then put a portion of durian flesh right into a glass container and positioned it within the freezer. Once we pulled it out a number of hours later, the frozen fruit’s texture had turn into much more heavenly, akin to ice cream.
Not everybody would agree. Durian could also be one of the crucial divisive flavors on the market; the fruit has a famously sturdy scent stemming from odor-producing genetics, and although many discover it nice or just impartial (my colleague Kat Craddock aptly described it as “form of like melon”), detractors discover its perfume off-putting at finest and nauseating at worst. Actually, sufficient individuals fall into the latter camp that there are “no durian” indicators posted in lots of mass-transit techniques, lodges, and different public areas all through Southeast Asia.
Nonetheless, I encourage you to not be postpone by any hyperbolic remarks you may hear about its scent. The scent and style are daring and complicated, and for durian lovers (like me), the fruit’s milky, custard notes prevail over its sulfurous musk.
After I visited Kelvin Tan, co-owner of the durian store 99 Old Trees in Singapore, he taught me that not all durians are created equal, and that it takes a little bit of know-how to pick a specimen that’s aromatic and candy relatively than overly stenchy or bitter. He additionally inspired me to not be daunted by the duty of chopping it open; with the appropriate instruments and a few practiced precision, the reward of luscious durian flesh is properly inside attain. Right here’s how you can unlock the potential of this one-of-a-kind taste and wrest even the spikiest fruit, based mostly on tried-and-true pointers from a durian professional.
What you want (supplies, instruments, components, cooking utensils, and so on.)
- massive, sharp knife (like a chef’s knife or cleaver)
- thick kitchen gloves and/or tea towels
STEP 1: Select a cultivar.
There are various commercially cultivated styles of durian available on the market as we speak, however Mao Shan Wang, also referred to as Musang King, is arguably essentially the most coveted. Not solely does the pulp-to-husk ratio are typically greater than in different cultivars, the flesh can also be particularly creamy and candy.
The Sultan cultivar presents a milder, extra balanced taste, with only a trace of bitterness. “Many durian connoisseurs in Singapore really search out this bitter style,” notes Tan. When climate circumstances are proper, the flesh could even begin to ferment, making a slight alcoholic aftertaste, “like biting into tiramisu,” he provides.
Different beloved varieties embody the super-sweet, orange-fleshed Purple Prawn, and the dryly named D101, identified for its light sweetness and buttery texture.
Many of the world’s durians come from Thailand and Malaysia, the place the fruit is out there recent throughout two seasons, from June to September and from December to February. In Thailand, growers sometimes pluck their harvest straight from the tree, whereas producers in Malaysia historically look forward to the ripe fruit to fall to the bottom. Yi-Jun Loh, the Malaysia-based meals author behind the weblog Jun & Tonic, suggests durian first-timers begin with varieties from Thailand, which he finds to be much less pungent, with extra floral, fruity taste.
For those who occur to have a specialty purveyor close to you, this would be the finest place to seek out a number of cultivars and recent, high-quality fruit. In any other case, go to your native Asian grocery store to see if it carries durian, or order on-line from a fruit supplier.
STEP 2: Search for visible cues.
When choosing your durian, Tan recommends in search of specimens with considerably inexperienced, grey, or brown husks. If the husk is beginning to yellow or blacken, that’s an indication the fruit could also be getting outdated.
It’s additionally essential to determine any splits within the husk. “If there are slight hair-like cracks, these are fairly regular. However when you see massive cracks, particularly horizontal ones, it’s an enormous no-no,” explains Tan. Darkish spots are one other crimson flag, as these could also be wormholes.
One other issue to bear in mind: symmetrically formed durians are typically simpler to open.
In case your native retailers solely carry durian pulp that has already been faraway from the husk, search for a barely wrinkled texture. “This is a sign that the fruit is totally ripe, and tender and creamy on the within,” says Tan. Alternatively, if the floor of the pulp is clean and “appears like a potato,” the flesh is prone to be onerous, underripe, and tasteless.
STEP 3: Reduce open the durian.
When you’ve chosen your durian, determine the faint traces that radiate from the bottom of the fruit (reverse the stem finish). There are often 5 seams, in a star form, which signify the place the a number of pods of flesh inside are situated. These seams are the place the husk will most simply break up.
Get your knife. On a flat work floor, and both sporting gloves or utilizing a tea towel to take care of a agency grip, regular the durian along with your non-dominant hand. Maintain the knife in your dominant hand and, if the durian nonetheless has its stem, lower it off. Subsequent, firmly however fastidiously slide the tip of the knife straight into the intersection of the seams. As soon as the size of the blade has penetrated about three inches, wiggle the knife gently, twisting it forwards and backwards till the vertical seams begin to break up alongside the size of the husk. Rigorously take away the knife from the fruit.
If any of the seams don’t break up all the way in which, use your knife to slice alongside it, ranging from the incision you simply made and dealing your strategy to inside a number of inches of the stem.
Grip the husk on both facet of the deepest fissure and pry it aside. Do the identical for every break up.
STEP 4: Scoop out the flesh.
You need to now see massive luscious mounds of durian. Use a spoon to scoop them out of the husk. Slice off and discard any imperfections or brown discolorations within the flesh; take away and discard the seeds, and discard the husk. And voila! Durian flesh to your enjoyment.
STEP 5: Take pleasure in!
After getting your durian pulp in hand, there are numerous methods to eat it. For those who love the uncooked style, you possibly can, after all, chow down instantly. However for a lot of, the way in which to durian enlightenment is to make use of the fruit in a decadent dessert to downplay its pungence with different flavors and textures. For instance, strive incorporating the pulp right into a scrumptious baked good: “You need to use a base recipe for banana bread, however as a substitute of bananas, you set in durian,” suggests Loh. “That seems actually, very nice.”
To indicate individuals how versatile and lovable the ingredient will be, Tan sells an in depth dessert line-up with self-deprecating names. (I’m keen on the Stinky Bomb, a choux puff crammed with durian cream, and Pungent Roll, a Swiss roll made with ethereal sponge cake and durian custard). Elsewhere in Singapore, the famed Chalk Farm bakery folds the pulp into burnt durian cheesecake and Durian Salat, an impressed tackle the basic kueh salat (a dessert made with glutinous rice and coconut milk), whereas Emicakes makes a speciality of durian-filled layer cakes and cream puffs.
12 months after 12 months, individuals await durian season with eagerness all throughout Asia, the place love for the fruit is widespread and ardent. For those who’re new to durian, give it a shot and also you may catch on to what all of the fanfare is about. Although I really like the style of pure durian taste, typically a number of gildings assist mellow the fruit’s funk. That’s why I developed this no-churn durian ice cream—it’s easy and easy, and all the time jogs my memory of my first time tasting the king of fruits.