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, muffins, cream puffs, and even pizza. Even individuals who don’t essentially know methods to minimize a durian’s famously robust outer shell are aware of the decadence of the flesh inside.
It’s exhausting to overlook one’s first encounter with durian. Once I was in center faculty, I noticed one on my uncle’s kitchen counter and couldn’t look away, intimidated by the large fruit’s menacingly spiked husk. However as soon as he cracked open the robust 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 nearly 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 grow to be much more heavenly, akin to ice cream.
Not everybody would agree. Durian could also be one of the vital divisive flavors on the market; the fruit has a famously robust odor stemming from odor-producing genetics, and although many discover it nice or just impartial (my colleague Kat Craddock aptly described it as “type of like melon”), detractors discover its perfume off-putting at finest and nauseating at worst. In actual fact, sufficient individuals fall into the latter camp that there are “no durian” indicators posted in lots of mass-transit techniques, inns, 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 odor and style are daring and sophisticated, and for durian lovers (like me), the fruit’s milky, custard notes prevail over its sulfurous musk.
Once I visited Kelvin Tan, co-owner of the durian store 99 Previous Timber in Singapore, he taught me that not all durians are created equal, and that it takes a little bit of know-how to pick out a specimen that’s aromatic and candy moderately than overly stenchy or bitter. He additionally inspired me to not be daunted by the duty of chopping it open; with the proper instruments and a few practiced precision, the reward of luscious durian flesh is nicely inside attain. Right here’s methods to 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, elements, cooking utensils, and so forth.)
- massive, sharp knife (like a chef’s knife or cleaver)
- thick kitchen gloves and/or tea towels
STEP 1: Select a cultivar.
There are numerous commercially cultivated types of durian in the marketplace right now, however Mao Shan Wang, also called Musang King, is arguably probably the most coveted. Not solely does the pulp-to-husk ratio are usually larger 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 hunt down 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 Crimson Prawn, and the dryly named D101, recognized for its mild sweetness and buttery texture.
Many of the world’s durians come from Thailand and Malaysia, the place the fruit is out there contemporary throughout two seasons, from June to September and from December to February. In Thailand, growers usually pluck their harvest instantly from the tree, whereas producers in Malaysia historically watch for 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.
In case you occur to have a specialty purveyor close to you, this would be the finest place to search out a number of cultivars and contemporary, 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 provider.
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 establish any splits within the husk. “If there are slight hair-like cracks, these are fairly regular. However in the event you see large 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 remember: symmetrically formed durians are usually simpler to open.
In case your native outlets 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 mushy and creamy on the within,” says Tan. Then again, if the floor of the pulp is clean and “appears like a potato,” the flesh is prone to be exhausting, underripe, and tasteless.
STEP 3: Minimize open the durian.
When you’ve chosen your durian, establish the faint strains 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 positioned. These seams are the place the husk will most simply break up.
Get your knife. On a flat work floor, and both carrying 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, minimize it off. Subsequent, firmly however rigorously slide the tip of the knife instantly 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 best way, use your knife to slice alongside it, ranging from the incision you simply made and dealing your method 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 must now see large 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 you have your durian pulp in hand, there are numerous methods to eat it. In case you love the uncooked style, you may, in fact, chow down immediately. However for a lot of, the best way 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 an alternative of bananas, you set in durian,” suggests Loh. “That seems actually, very nice.”
To point out individuals how versatile and lovable the ingredient may be, Tan sells an in depth dessert line-up with self-deprecating names. (I’m keen on the Smelly Bomb, a choux puff full of durian cream, and Smelly 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 traditional kueh salat (a dessert made with glutinous rice and coconut milk), whereas Emicakes makes a speciality of durian-filled layer muffins and cream puffs.
12 months after yr, individuals await durian season with eagerness all throughout Asia, the place love for the fruit is widespread and ardent. In case you’re new to durian, give it a shot and also you may catch on to what all of the fanfare is about. Though I really like the style of pure durian taste, typically a number of elaborations assist mellow the fruit’s funk. That’s why I developed this no-churn durian ice cream—it’s easy and simple, and at all times jogs my memory of my first time tasting the king of fruits.