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Durian

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I know, there are a million threads on this already, but here's my 1st experience with the "King of Fruits"...

Finally worked up the courage to purchase a Durian at the Asian market this weekend. The smell wasn't bad at first, it just smelled like really-ripe bananas - that is, until I cut it open. I quickly opened the windows as the rotten fruit/dirty diaper stink escaped from the fruit.

The texture wasn't unpleasing, sort of like a custard. The taste was indescribable - sort of a combination between banana, pineapple, and boiled onion. It wasn't horrible (that wimp from the Bizarre Foods show couldn't hold it down), but I'm not sure I would bother buying it again. I've got the leftovers sitting in the freezer, I'll probably make some sort of shake with the rest of it.

I don't see what the big fuss is about, but at least I can say that I tried it

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  1. My sister didn't like it until she had it a few times. She said she can "understand" durian now. Personally, I've had it multiple times and still find it off-putting.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Miss Needle

      I knew I should have been worried when the cashier at the Asian supermarket asked me if I was sure about buying it

      1. re: Biggie

        My cashier, a native of Malaysia, was honest (and cute) telling me durian smells like 'cat poop'. Armed with that info, I decided to pass.

        Durian popsicles are available at many Asian markets (if you feel the need).

        1. re: Cheese Boy

          CB, I'm surprised at you. Would have expected you to say it is just like a great, stinky cheese--which it is. The only wild card is that I don't know the difference between fresh in Asia and what you would buy in the US.

          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            Sam, I don't like the 'King of Cheese' either (brie).
            I'll eventually try the 'King of Fruits' (durian) one day. I just have to get passed the cat poop thing. Moldy cheeses don't remind me of cat poop. They remind me of mold. Cat poop is a tough one for me to get passed I guess. I'll practice by spending time near litter boxes. What we get here in the U.S. is *mild* compared to the more pungent (ripe) durian in Asian countries.

    2. The first time I tasted durian was when I went to Thailand. OMG. I was in heaven. The piece I had was so creamy. SO creamy. just so wonderful and light. I would describe the flavor as a creamy pineapple.

      I'm glad you tried it!

      1. The hotel where I stayed in Bangkok (Nana Hotel) had a sign with a picture of a dorian, a circle around it with a line through it. Underneath, it said "No Dorian". I tried it at a Bangkok restaurant, and ate it all. I can imagine that if I lived over there, I could get used to it.

        2 Replies
        1. re: dhedges53

          I assume you ate it fresh and not BBQed?

          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            No, my durian was either boiled or braised.

            Hahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!

            Just kidding, of course. Actually, I was in a Bangkok supermarket one day when a woman was cutting open a durian, and I noticed that a lot of the locals were avoiding the fruit/vegetable aisles, at that time. I had to smile at that.

        2. My father-in-law laughed at the thought of eating a durian that had been frozen and sent across the Pacific. Being from Malaysia, he blew it off and didn't even think twice about eating one here. To him, it would be analogous to to a Californian expecting to find great citrus in Kuala Lumpur.

          I can tell you that the smell from the durians found in the markets here are nothing compared to the durians you find in the outdoor stands throughout SE Asia. The smell is so vivid and penetrating that it will find you before you find the durians - tag, your it. This is why so many signs of durians with the big red circle with the line through it are displayed. As much as every true-blooded SE Asian swoons over these spikey monsters that are filled with rich custardy seed pods, to smell it in areas that are considered "safe zones," can be offensive to even the most avid of "durianatos."

          Think of garlic. Garlic is adored by many. Send me to Alejo's and I can make a meal from dipping their bread in their olive oil that is knee-deep in chopped garlic. Along with a couple of glasses of wine and a couple of apps or an entree which are also redolent in garlic and I'm off to garlic nirvana. Spoon up some of the garlic out of the oil and ladle it onto a slice of pizza - the drool is almost Pavlovian. However, the smell exuding from me will curl all eyelashes within a 10-foot radius of me for the next three days. The odor of garlic reeks through every pore on my body, my breath, even my hair. Not exactly the most favored scent this potent alium exudes after ingesting it. That effect of post-garlic fest is exactly the same when transporting durian - real tree-ripened durian - from stand to where ever it decides to call home. It announces its presence in a big way like teenager blasting hip-hop on his amped-out car stereo with the windows down. It may be great to him, but to all who weren't prepared for it, well...

          Biggie, you owe it to yourself to try a "real" durian in SE Asia if the chance ever arises. What you had here was its meek stand-in who peeps durian. The durians "back home" will saunter up to you like a heavily perfumed street walker and lay on the heaviest bout of sweat, shake, and wiggle that will leave you either weak in the knees and jonesing for more, or feeling totally assaulted and disgusted and in need of a serious shower. Whatever the case, you won't be underwhelmed by the real deal.

          9 Replies
          1. re: bulavinaka

            If it was really half as seductive as your writing, I'd just lay down for it. I've never been to Malaysia but the durian I've had here seemed rather disgusting and not something I could easily acquire a taste for. I'd like to try the real stuff though. What and where is the closest thing to the real McCoy in the US? I'm in SoCal.

            1. re: P Macias

              I guess I wasn't expressive enough in pointing out that most people strongly feel one way or another about durian... either it hits your passion, or it hits you square in the nose...

              I don't know if durian is being grown in the Western hemisphere yet. It is definitely a tropical zone fruit that needs lots of heat, humidity, water and acid soil. We're talking year-round equatorial weather conditions. Outside of SE Asia, I don't know if the real McCoy is available. I can't see it being grown in South or Central America unless it's strictly a cash crop for export. I'm guessing that the locals would have a hard time wrapping their heads around the concept of eating durian, at least at first...

              1. re: bulavinaka

                I think I've been told that they are growing durian and jak fruit in Mexico and mangosteens in puerto rico.

                1. re: markethej

                  Mangosteens and jackfruit are grown in various areas throughout tropical Latin America.

                  1. re: markethej

                    That would be great news for durian lovers... my guess would be that these would still need to be picked early, but not as early, and some sort of pest irradication method would surely apply... but if the varieties being grown in Mexico are as flavorful as those grown in SE Asia, this would make Mexico a destination for durian lovers in North America.

                2. re: P Macias

                  Some of the Viet markets in Little Saigon/Garden Grove have both frozen and fresh durian available, but I am not sure of the season. I saw fresh about 2 months ago.

                3. re: bulavinaka

                  >> Biggie, you owe it to yourself to try a "real" durian in SE Asia if the chance ever arises. What you had here was its meek stand-in who peeps durian. The durians "back home" will saunter up to you like a heavily perfumed street walker and lay on the heaviest bout of sweat, shake, and wiggle that will leave you either weak in the knees and jonesing for more, or feeling totally assaulted and disgusted and in need of a serious shower. Whatever the case, you won't be underwhelmed by the real deal. <<

                  Man, I would love to experience this. Have known about durians for years but have yet to find one anywhere. I like to think I'll try anything once and this is just incredibly intriguing.

                  1. re: Jimmy Buffet

                    Hopefully what Markethej says will materialize soon - Mexico has great food already - if they start producing good durians in any sizeable quantities, and if the locals start liking it, Mexico will be a reasonably close destination for your experience. When you start to see local Thais and Chinese lining up on planes headed for places in Southern Mexico like the Yucatan, Quintana Roo, and Chiapas, then it' time...

                  2. re: bulavinaka

                    What a great post. This reflection on durian should be published. I've never tried durian. I know someday I will. It will be forced on me by my thai friend who has managed to scare me away from it with stories of its notorious aroma.

                  3. Something about the reputation of durian challenges me. Durian ice cream is an interesting way to approach the flavor without the power of the fruit.
                    As served by Noodle Planet in Westwood (LA) the fruit was almost too powerful to deal with. That was probably the frozen variety available in the 99 Ranch Markets.
                    My question to the panel is; does anyone else think that it tastes like fresh motor oil?

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Phood

                      30-weight or multi-grade? ;} Musky, fruity, and custardy on the back of the tongue, with a strong overtone of rotting onions for me... I've tried to like it, many times, but the combination of conflicting aromas always causes a gag reflex...

                      1. re: Phood

                        The first time I had durian (and granted, it was in a Vietnamese restaurant in Baltimore), I described it as 'eating the NJ turnpike!' I've been to SE Asia numerous times, with locals who have adored it! Try as I might, I cannot get past the smell (it smells like the Jersey turnpike in Malaysia and Vietnam, too!)

                        Regarding the post below, the NYT, maybe a month or two ago, had a similar article concering growing non-stinky durian.

                        In addition, there are different ways of eating it. I don't know the truth about all this, but it's considered a 'heat' food...and, you're not supposed to eat it and drink alcohol....

                        1. re: baltoellen

                          I think you're referring to "heaty" and "cooling" aspects of food. It usually pertains to the richness or other characters of the food that will bring heat to your body, or cool it off. If you were to put fruits on a scale from cooling to heaty, watermelon would be very cooling, and durian would probably be one of the heatiest, if not the most heaty of fruits. As you've been to SE Asia, you know that your body is working overtime to stay cool. Anything that makes you feel the least bit hotter can be immediately felt (where your metabolic functions have to work at digesting foods that are rich), even if it's a cool dish of something rich, like ice cream. E.g., people in cooler climates tend to eat more ice cream per capita than anywhere else. I don't know if this makes any sense, but I hope it adds some insight...

                          1. re: bulavinaka

                            Very interesting! No one has ever explained it to me like that. But, I also understand that mandarin oranges are considered "heaty." (I knew someone in KL who complain that she got sick around Chinese New Year for eating too many of those traditional holiday fruits!)

                            And, the way you explained it with ice cream makes perfect sense. Of course,I'd take cendol over ice cream any day...(and, yes, I'd never seen as many people eat ice cream as I did in Copenhagen, in early winter...at the time, it made little sense!)

                            1. re: baltoellen

                              Bamboo is very cooling - the Chinese believe that people who suffer from ailments like arthritis should stay away from such foods because it will exacerbate the symptoms - you don't want cooling if your joints are aching, right? I don't know if it's true - hope to never be in the situation...

                              I think the mandarin oranges were an issue because of the high amounts of sugar in them - carbs mean energy, which then roles into heat... and if she was eating a bowl of those, I can see the heaty logic.

                              Put it this way though, like in alot of Far East "superstitions," one can reason or rationalize just about any occurance in life and blame it or praise it because of some seemingly strange mystical reason or another... my father-in-law does it frequently and he has the backing of thousands of years of practice behind him...

                      2. i heard on mpr weekend edition that a guy is breeding and is currently growing de-scented durian for tourists and possibly export, and then because people were sceptical that a non-stinky durian wouldn't taste good, that he was adding (lighter) stink
                        back in to a second varietal. . .tried to find the story in the archives but it doesn't seem to go much further than this link. . .

                        http://search.publicradio.org/minneso...

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: soupkitten

                          I have a hard time believing that a descented durian would have the same depth of flavor as a stinky one. It would be nice, but I don't see it being valid.

                        2. I had to try the durian after reading so much about it on this board so I recently made my way to a banh mi shop that serves durian shakes.

                          As soon as they started making the shake, I had an inkling that maybe durian wasn't for me. It smelled like kerosene or maybe sulfur. The first sip revealed that it tasted exactly like pineapple mixed with onions and death.

                          Hands down the foulest thing I've ever eaten. Ever. And this was the diluted version -- so I can't even imagine eating the real fruit! I handed the rest of the shake to my husband, who eats pretty much anything on the planet, and he was equally grossed out.

                          This is definitely one of those love it or hate it things.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: oolah

                            ROFL! Like I mention in my post above, weak in the knees or in need of a serious shower - scrub really hard!

                            1. re: bulavinaka

                              Ha, yes! I really wanted to like it. Maybe I'll give it another shot in a few years :)

                            2. re: oolah

                              This is really funny - I could have written this post! My GF and I were in Greensboro NC over the weekend and in search of Banh mi we had a durian bubble tea(!). Well, definitely tasted like tropical fruit and death. I will eat anything (vegetarian that is) and have a strong stomach but 2 sips was all I could do and then we had to have it removed from the table. Glad I tried it though! p.s. did anyone else notice a buzz?

                            3. OMG you must be in my head. My friend and I were talking last week about Durian - LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT. CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF IT! We grew up in SE Asia, so perhaps it's 'in the blood' (although my brother hates it). It's an acquired taste, the frozen doesn't even give rise to the beauty of the fresh, the shakes and the popsicles? never got that, it's like any good fruit, best when eaten fresh!
                              ohh, now i'm am salivating for it.....

                              1. I'm wondering if Durian may be like cilantro is for some of us. Since it is so heavenly to some and repulsive to others (meaning a general love it or hate it thing) maybe there is a genetic proponent to it? I would love to try it . I don't really want to unless I can have it in season from it's native area though.

                                1. Does anybody know if durian is related to the cherimoya? Something about the creamy flesh and strong taste makes me think there's a relationship there...

                                  Cheers!

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: SaltyRaisins

                                    Durian (Durio zibethinus, from SE Asia) and chirimoya (Anona cherimola, \New World) are of different genus and geographical origin.

                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                      Yeah- I checked it out after the posting, and discovered this as well. Of cherimoyas I've experienced plenty, but with durian I've only had a hard candy after a Thai meal. I enjoyed it, and tasted similarities between the flavors. I guess my inner taxonomist envisioned the cherimoya as a spineless durian for a moment.

                                      1. re: SaltyRaisins

                                        I can see the similarities between the durian and cherimoya in terms of texture only as they're both custardy. Taste is completely different. I've never had a durian candy, but have had durian in forms of plain fruit, ice cream and souffle. Every time I've had it, it tasted like rotting onions to me.

                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                          Durian is too expensive in the U.S., its even expensive to buy in Thailand. The cheapest place I found to buy it is Sri Lanka. I lived there for a year and had my own Jackfruit, Tamarind, and Guava trees growing in my yard, together with Banana plants.
                                          I don't know why people are saying take a shower after coming near a Durian, it doesn't make you smell. It does have a strong sulfur taste, but you also develop a craving for it after you get used to it.

                                          1. re: lazycook

                                            >>I don't know why people are saying take a shower after coming near a Durian, it doesn't make you smell.<<

                                            Hmmm - I don't know about that - maybe you're experience has been like that of everyone eating garlic. Everyone smells of it so no one really notices. And Sri Lankan food isn't exactly tame either, thereby offering another layer of distraction for your sense of smell.

                                            I can tell you that I've experienced many times where someone had come back to the office from lunch and their breath, their fingers, and anything else touched by durian smelled of it.

                                  2. I bought frozen, peeled durian at an asian grocery store in montreal.
                                    I live in a mcgill residence.
                                    I thought that the smell wouldn't penetrate so much. And once i took a bite, i knew it wasnt worth it.
                                    My entire residence building smells awful, and nobody knows why!
                                    Woops! Hounders aren't meant to live in residence i guess...

                                    1. I have not had the opportunity to taste the real deal, but I would if so offered. I will say though, that at one time we had some wonderful Laotian neighbors who once gifted me a bag of durian hard candy, and I could smell it through the cryovac. I couldn't get past it, and couldn't taste them, but I'm not fooled into thinking that was a true representation of the real thing..I'd still try it, if I could.

                                      1. Love love love love durian, ever since I started eating solid foods! My entire family is a fan.

                                        I have never, ever tasted something that was "durian flavored" that was even remotely good or tasted anything like real, fresh durian though! So if anyone is really interested in how durian tastes, you must have the actual fruit, with nothing else! Durian shakes, pastries, hard candies...I don't know what happens to the fruit, but it just doesn't taste anything like durian at all to me once put into something else.

                                        They grow durian in Hawaii, but since I didn't have a huge knife with me on my vacation, I was unable to enjoy true, fresh durian. I still love even the frozen ones that you can only find on the East Coast of the States, though!