Malaysian Durian Season!!
- klyeoh Aug 1, 2013 06:40 AM
It's here again - the durian season: that's when pop-up stalls emerge all over Malaysian cities: Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Ipoh, Johore Bahru, Malacca, etc., all offering that super-pungent thorny fruit which encased orbs of delicious custardy flesh inside.
In the West, most folks simply *cannot* stand the strong scent which ripe durians emit. Over here in Malaysia and Singapore, we salivate! :-)
Malaysians and Singaporeans like their durians soft-fleshed and extra-pungent, whilst Thais liked their durians semi-ripe, semi-hard fleshed, and with a less assertive smell.
I liked all kinds of durians - the Thai "Monthong", "Chanee" and "Karnyao", the Malaysian "Musang King", "Red Prawn", "D24". I find Vietnamese durians just passable, whilst Indonesian durians were the pits - scentless, bland and tasteless.
Singapore imports its durians mainly from Malaysia: Johore, Pahang and Penang states produce the best durians - brightly lit-up pop-up stalls lined the streets of Geylang and other parts of the island to cater to the hungry masses. Thai durians are also available in supermarkets - expensive, and favoured by Japanese expats who're adjusting to the extreme pungency of Malaysian durians.
Durians are banned from public vehicles in Singapore, and most public buildings and all hotels. The same rules exist in Malaysia but less enforcement in place compared to Singapore.
I had my durian fix today: bought 4 durians of various species from a pop-up stall along Old Klang Road. Consumed them 2 hours ago, but the smell still remained in my apartment, as it will for the next 3 days. But it's all *worth it*!
The "101" specie of durian I tried this evening - melt-in-the-mouth texture, buttery-rich and slightly bitterish - the way most Singaporeans/Malaysians love their durians!
Prices vary a lot in KL, depending on what the supply is like that season, as well as what and where you are buying. The past mid-year season was not great (unhelpful dry blast in May/ June). So prices were high-ish across the board.
At the high-quality end, Mao Sangs were 22 - 28 ringgit a kilo (I use the retail price of one of the vendors in the SS2 durian hub as a casual benchmark since I know some of his suppliers and that they are allocating him great fruit from their mature trees). In an abundant season, the same guy will price Mao Sangs down to 15 - 18. When fruit is scarce eg. early in the season, he can go up to 40.
There will be lower-priced alternatives in KL - many vendors will set up a stall with an opportunistic lorry-load of fruit during the season, or sell along-side their usual goods. My casual observation is that they will price at around 60% of the 'premium' supplier.
For what it's worth, my understanding is that many growers do send their best fruit to Singapore, because that's where they command the better prices. So you shouldn't feel too bad about paying up for it.
I have a coworker who gets Durians at one of the many large local Korean supermarkets in Washington state.
She says that because of the taste, they can be chopped, sauted with garlic, & used as a substitute for caramelized onions.