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I bought a durian!

Louise Feb 10, 2009 08:58 AM

Yes I did! Yes I did! I grabbed it from the discount shelf, yes I did!

Can you tell I'm excited?

Wow, is it stinky! I have a durian, yay yay yay!

<bzzt> We now return you to your regularly scheduled program. <bzzt>

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  1. c oliver RE: Louise Feb 10, 2009 09:14 AM

    You didn't!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You're braver than we are. My husband says they're not even allowed on public transpo in Singapore! Whenever we walk past a vendor, I'm always mesmerized but not so much that I'd actually BUY one. But now, are you going to eat it????? You MUST report back. Eeeeeekkkkkkk.

    9 Replies
    1. re: c oliver
      Samalicious RE: c oliver Feb 10, 2009 10:22 AM

      Seriously. All the details please!

      1. re: Samalicious
        c oliver RE: Samalicious Feb 10, 2009 10:28 AM

        Yes, seriously. I watched Andrew Zimmern almost gag on one and, when you consider what he pops in his mouth, that tells ME something.

      2. re: c oliver
        Louise RE: c oliver Feb 10, 2009 10:58 AM

        I tasted it fresh for the first time in Singapore. And yes, the 'no durian' signs were there in the subway along with no smoking, no littering, no dangerous compressed gasses.

        Am I going to eat it? I already did!

        Normally, it's like $6/pound, but this one was open so they swathed it in saran wrap, marked it down, and put it on the discount shelf. This is Berkeley Bowl for those in the SFBA. I really enjoy people watching and a durian dispute might have been quite a show, but then I would not have gotten it so into the basket it went. This was one of the smaller examples and I was still lopsided all the way to the car.

        Even from the trunk, it stank up the car quickly. I can't really say stink, it's that mushroomy pheremonal smell that truffles emit. I left it out til I was ready, as I didn't want every single thing in the fridge to stink of durian. The whole house especially the kitchen got that truffle smell. It was partly open, so prying the husk apart was fairly easy. I might use kitchen mitts if there's a next time, the husk takes some leverage and the sharp spikes are no joke. I ate one segment with coconut rice. To me, there's a distinct onion component to the aroma of the actual flesh. Comparisons that came to mind were onion soup mix, chives gone off, or sprouted onions gone off. The flesh was sweet and very pale. The rest of it is in the fridge in well sealed tupperware. The seeds are quite large and are supposed to be edible but must be cooked first and I have found only vague instructions. I am hoping to solve that mystery and will report back later if I do. There are supposed to be many different durian cultivars which enjoy varying levels of culinary esteem, but I don't know which this was.

        Yes, it did quite stink, but I managed to eat it. I'd say if you can manage to feed your cat canned food without fainting, you will probably be able to deal with this. Liking it, that's another story.

        1. re: Louise
          Ali RE: Louise Feb 10, 2009 11:30 AM

          Soak the seeds in water so that all the durian flesh is gone. Boil as you might a potato. Peel the outer skin. Eat.

          1. re: Ali
            Louise RE: Ali Feb 10, 2009 03:13 PM

            Thank you, I will report back once I've tried them.

            1. re: Louise
              kobetobiko RE: Louise Feb 10, 2009 08:31 PM

              The cooked seeds tasted like really chalky potato without much flavor.

              1. re: kobetobiko
                Ali RE: kobetobiko Feb 11, 2009 06:53 AM

                Depends on the seeds, I think. Some most definitely taste like a chalky potato (the larger ones seems to be the trend I'm noticing), though I'd say that flavour isn't that bland (then again, I don't find yucca bland in the least, and all the judges on Chopped last night commented on how bland yucca is). The smaller ones are different - less starchy, bit of a peculiar texture that reminds me of a firmer boiled chestnut.

                1. re: Ali
                  Rasam RE: Ali Mar 11, 2009 12:38 AM

                  Jackfruit seeds (seem similar in taste and texture to what you describe for durian seeds) and unripe jackfruit chunks are cooked in a masala gravy in some Indian regions.

                  Maybe durian seeds could be done the same way?

                  1. re: Ali
                    sisterfunkhaus RE: Ali Jan 10, 2010 11:59 AM

                    Mmmm. I love yucca. Not bland at all.

        2. alanbarnes RE: Louise Feb 10, 2009 10:39 AM

          It gets worse when you cut into it. Speaking of which, watch those spines.

          A word to the wise: don't consume any carbonated beverages before, during, or after you taste the stuff. Even if you enjoy the flavor, it's probably best as a one-time experience, if you know what I mean. We're talking belches that can clear a room...

          1. JoanN RE: Louise Feb 10, 2009 10:49 AM

            I've had durian a few times, but only in Asia where someone else opened it for me. I'll be very curious to hear how you end up going about that. I might like to try it myself.

            Surprised to read your comment, AB, about the residual effects. I don't recall that at all.

            1 Reply
            1. re: JoanN
              bulavinaka RE: JoanN Mar 10, 2009 09:00 PM

              AB speaks truth. My last experience was sitting in a smallish kitchen Kuala Lumpur in '07, eating some new esteemed variety called "Red Lobster" or something like that. My bro-in-law literally drove 2-3 hours to source it just for me, the visiting guest from LA. So here we are, seven adults a two kids - our kids stayed far away - noshing away at the fleshy custardy pods. The smell was already quite heady in the humid evening air. My father-in-law, who just finished off some beer earlier with dinner, plugged one of those belches where he put the top of his fist up to his mouth, burped where his cheeks expanded and you can almost feel the air coming out of his ears simultaneously, and the afterburn - oh that smell. We cleared the kitchen - he laughed and kept eating.

            2. r
              ricepad RE: Louise Feb 10, 2009 10:55 AM

              You brave soul! About a week ago, I was at a local asian market and was sorting through some of the produce. There was a pile of durian in the next bin, and it was all I could do not to throw up. It made me wonder: How hungry must that first person to eat a durian have been to think, "I bet this prickly, stinky thing might just be edible..."??

              2 Replies
              1. re: ricepad
                Louise RE: ricepad Feb 10, 2009 11:02 AM

                Hah! I wondered that myself. Though in Oakland Chinatown I often see them frozen so less funky.

                1. re: Louise
                  Monch RE: Louise Feb 10, 2009 11:39 AM


                  Your post describes why my experience was so much different than described.

                  We went to our fave resto for my birthday but didn't make a big deal of it to the staff. When the occasion was discovered, the chef/owner sent out a surprise...a section of durian (it had been frozen) with a birthday candle in it.

                  I was surprised and pleased by the taste of the flesh. To my palate, it was like a coconut/pineapple custard...albeit with fibers throughout.

                  Didn't tackle the seeds, but enjoyed the flesh.

              2. l
                lgss RE: Louise Feb 10, 2009 02:51 PM

                My husband brought durian jam back from the Philippines (4 years ago?!) but we haven't been brave enough to open the jar yet. We've said we'll take it on a picnic one of these summers.

                1. Vetter RE: Louise Feb 10, 2009 07:21 PM

                  I smuggled one across the US/Canada border once when I couldn't find one nearby. I thought my car trunk smelled like strawberries when I got home, so I didn't think much of bringing the thing into the house to eat the next day. I just chucked it onto a shelf in my closet and went to bed. Well, I was living in a (probably illegal) boarding house type setting; I had three neighbors on my floor. The next morning, I walked out my door to find my neighbors all complaining about the horrible stench last night. Apparently, two of them ended up opening their bedroom windows! I never fessed up...

                  The whole experience was sort of like eating a custardy sweetish smelly avocado. I've been meaning to try another one!

                  1. k
                    kobetobiko RE: Louise Feb 10, 2009 08:30 PM

                    Hi Louise,

                    Good for you! Here in Manhattan you can find durian pretty much all year round. They are still in the shell but some vendors will open it up for you and put the lobes of flesh into a box.

                    Not sure if you know, if you use the empty shell of the durian (interior) to hold water and wash your hands with the water, the smell of the durian on your hands will go away. Use the water to rinse your mouth and your mouth won't stink anymore!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kobetobiko
                      Amidahidan RE: kobetobiko Feb 11, 2009 07:10 AM


                      When i ate durian i still smelled/tasted it like 3 days later.

                      I brushed, rinsed my mouth, scraped my tongue and could not get rid of the smell/taste.

                    2. h
                      hungryungry RE: Louise Feb 11, 2009 06:50 PM

                      wow! I'm excited for you. It was also banned at all the hotels in Singapore.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: hungryungry
                        Louise RE: hungryungry Feb 12, 2009 09:45 PM

                        Oh, yeah, the "no durian" signs, along with the "watch out for falling durian" signs.

                        Mostly I had it ice kachang, which I could eat by the bucket, no milk please.

                        1. re: Louise
                          hungryungry RE: Louise Mar 10, 2009 08:37 PM

                          oh.. I had ice kachang too...do you remember what's in it? taro root? and stuff?

                        2. re: hungryungry
                          bulavinaka RE: hungryungry Mar 10, 2009 09:03 PM

                          As a rule, cabbies won't allow them either - and since it's a rule in Singapore, it's not negotiable...

                        3. t
                          tnilsson RE: Louise Feb 18, 2009 02:24 PM

                          I purchased some durian when in China last year. Given all the stories I had heard, I had to try it. But everyone I was with nicknamed it "ass-fruit" because it smelled like an open trench latrine. I can't say they were wrong. It was probably the worst smelling and worst tasting food I have ever eaten. If I were to be polite, I'd say it tasted of onions and garlic gone bad. But the fruit does not deserve politeness! I don't understand how people can actually like them (and this comes from me, someone who actually likes the fermented fish you get in northern Sweden which scares off most people)!

                          1. i
                            IlanaW RE: Louise Feb 20, 2009 11:18 AM

                            Louise! Please! Don't do it again, okay! I was brought up in South East Asia, the oppressive summer heat, the humidity soaking one's shirt almost as soon as one put it on, and the terrible dank odor of the durians, as they sat there stinking in the sun! It's called, "Rotting while you wait!" That is the elusive aroma you were trying to conjure up! Don't conjure, girlfriend! Leave it where it lies! That and kimchee. I know I will get letters now, but I can't help it. Why buy something that may further debase your property value?

                            1. b
                              birdmonk RE: Louise Feb 20, 2009 11:26 AM

                              I first ate durian in Bandung, Indonesia (Java) in 1989. To me the smell -- which is due to fermentation -- was a combination of scallions and cheese but once I got past that I enjoyed it (Jackfruit is a less offensive alternative). But I had an interesting experience that night. I woke up and had been severely attacked by mosquitoes and had bites all over my body. While or after digesting the fruit I must have excreted something through the pores of my skin that attracted the insects On the bright side I was in Indonesia for 2 more months and never got another mosquito bite!!!

                              1. a
                                AngelSanctuary RE: Louise Feb 20, 2009 02:36 PM

                                ...am I like the only one who likes Durian or something =(? Never saw the big dead about them, ate them since I was a kid...

                                If you can't stand the smell, you can wrap them and freeze them. They have a sort of ice cream like texture when frozen. I like them both ways.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: AngelSanctuary
                                  nvcook RE: AngelSanctuary Feb 20, 2009 02:43 PM

                                  That must be a Freudian slip above, about "Never saw the big dead.." Right?!

                                  1. re: nvcook
                                    AngelSanctuary RE: nvcook Feb 26, 2009 10:19 PM

                                    LMAO, omg, that is quite an unfortunate typo!

                                2. m
                                  MahatmaKanejeeves RE: Louise Feb 20, 2009 02:42 PM

                                  I have eaten frozen durian and durian ice cream. They are available in some Asian supermarkets. Frozen is a good introduction for the cautious. Yummy. I sealed the frozen durian in an air tight container to prevent the aroma from dominating the fridge and kitchen.

                                  1. a
                                    AndyGanil RE: Louise Feb 21, 2009 07:15 PM

                                    In my hospital durians are banned because of one incident. Emergency personnel was called in hazmat/firefighters/ etc because of that horrible stench. Turns out someone left their lunchbox of durian open.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: AndyGanil
                                      bulavinaka RE: AndyGanil Mar 10, 2009 09:09 PM

                                      My wife and I had a traditional Chinese wedding ceremony in Kuala Lumpur. Part of this whole tradition is getting studio photos of the couple - pretty big deal for the families. One of the photographer's assistants just came back from lunch and we could smell durian on her. What was really bad was when she would pinch her fingers and thumb inches from our faces to get us to turn toward the camera - she was using the hand that she had eaten the durian with. Needless to say we literally had to force our smiles for the camera...

                                    2. lulubelle RE: Louise Mar 11, 2009 03:49 AM

                                      The last hotel I stayed at in Bangkok had a large sign requesting that guests refrain from bringing prostitutes and durian back to their rooms.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: lulubelle
                                        EWSflash RE: lulubelle Feb 1, 2010 05:28 PM

                                        lulubelle, that's hilarious!
                                        A coworker who spent time in the Peace Corps in Malaysia says that "eating durian is like eating peach custard while sitting in an outhouse".
                                        But oddly enough, she has never actually said whether she actually ate durian or got the quote from somebody else. I didn't want to force the issue by cross-examining her.

                                        1. re: EWSflash
                                          bulavinaka RE: EWSflash Feb 1, 2010 06:00 PM

                                          >>A coworker who spent time in the Peace Corps in Malaysia says that "eating durian is like eating peach custard while sitting in an outhouse".<<

                                          She forgot about the part where the rotten onion is smeared below her nose as well. :)

                                          1. re: bulavinaka
                                            EWSflash RE: bulavinaka Feb 2, 2010 11:12 AM

                                            She sure did forget- I would have remembered that.

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