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Durian


Schielke
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After reading about Bourdain trying durian in Vietnam? Thailand? (I forget now where), I tried a durian shake at a Vietnamese place last year. I wasn’t repulsed, but wasn’t able to finish it either. The taste and smell reminded me of amoxicillin, the ‘bubble gum’ flavored antibiotic from when I was a kid. The chunks of the fruit seemed to have that slick texture canned fruit has, so I wondered if it had been preserved in some way. I wanted to ask more from our waiter, but communication was difficult.

Has anyone heard of canned durian? Or preserved in other ways? Or is that texture just how the fruit is?

I imagine I need to just buy a durian at the farmer’s market and give it a shot, but it’s a very formidable and scary prospect. One day…..

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It's pretty slimy.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

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Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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I tried a durian shake at a Vietnamese restaurant in Philadelphia's Chinatown. I didn't care for the smell -- I would liken it to the scent added to natural gas to make it smell unpleasant -- but if I held my nose and drank through the straw, I did enjoy the taste. It was very rich, buttery-textured, and sweet. But all in all, I don't think the taste is worth the smell. I wouldn't have it over, say, a really good mango or papaya.

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My mother (Vietnamese) LOVES the durian. As you can imagine, finding fresh durian in St. Louis, in the 80s and 90s even, is most challenging. So whenever my mother would leave the US, she'd return w/ exotic, stinky and vaguely illegal foods (cheese, meat, fruit, even the durian). While I appreicated the stinky cheese even as a kid, I just couldn't/can't stomach the durian stench. (I always ask mom how she gets so much contraband through customs. She always responds that no one searches a middle aged Asian women w/ Louis Vuitton luggage. Helpful hint...)

Once mom came home w/ an especially fragrant durian. All of the windows were open, my siblings left the house and only mom, the durian and I remained. Dad came home, and thought we had a gas leak. Rather than checking the rest of the house to see who was home or what might have caused the smell, Dad left and called the gas company to come check the leak. Imagine our shock when the gas company showed up. But imagine everyone else's shock when they found out the smell was from a fruit. Mom offered it to everyone, no one took her up on the offer.

Personally, I don't mind the taste, but I don't love it, either. And I really don't love the death-burps. And I really cannot tolerate that smell.

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In the Cook's Tour episode from Thailand the elevator in Tony's hotel had a picture of a Durian with a circle and a slash through it...

=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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I feel durian is best when used in a sweet/savory preparation. Foie Gras pairings are nice. You also need a fat riesling with a light amount of sugar to stand up to its rich complex nature.

Sorry guys. I just love durian and so does my husband. It is perhaps an acquired taste although

i acquired it after the first bite. Took my husband a little longer. He watched me eat a whole fruit in Bangkok and refused to try it. Then we saw them here in Chinatown he decided to try and we were both hooked. I have never been able to think what to do with it other than eat it after dinner but the foie gras idea is fascinating. Do you eat it with the cold terrine or as an accompaniment to sautéed foie gras? I just have to try it.

Edited by Ruth (log)

Ruth Friedman

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I have to disagree with Tonkichi when he said the best durian comes from Malaysia. The best ones are from Thailand! :biggrin:

In fact, the more expensive they are, the less "stinky" the smell. Not that they smell any less. Only that they have more of a perfum and an odor :wink:

One of my favorite desserts in Thailand is Kao-niew Durian, which is sweet sticky rice served with stewed durian. Put some durian in coconut milk, add a little palm sugare and a little salt, cook it slowly until soft and the durian scent has permiated the coconut milk, that's how you make a stewed durian. Take a bowl and fill it with sweet sticky rice, top it with stewed durian. Yummmm

chez pim

not an arbiter of taste

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I see durians hanging for sale in markets in Manhattan's Chinatown all the time, but I've always resisted the temptation to buy them, because I've always assumed they must be inferior to the real thing.

So I'm surprised-- and excited-- to see favorable references in this thread to those same New York durians.

Does anyone know: are these Thai durians, and thus at the less stinky end of the spectrum? Is there anyone who is familiar with durians of fine quality who has tried the variety found here? And if such a person is here, what is the quality level of the specimens found for sale in NYC?

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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Does anyone know:  are these Thai durians, and thus at the less stinky end of the spectrum?  Is there anyone who is familiar with durians of fine quality who has tried the variety found here?  And if such a person is here, what is the quality level of the specimens found for sale in NYC?

Yes, such a person is here. I think. :unsure: I've always loved durian growing up in Thailand. My grandfather's favorite fruit was durian, and he was very picky about the quality. He refused even to eat durian that has been out of its shell for longer than five minutes, claiming that it would "smell like the wind".

I've never found durian of fine quality in the US. Period. The problem maybe that durians found here have been frozen for transport. As other delicate fruits, durians do not freeze, or rather, thaw, well.

The result, I've so far found durian of good enough quality that I would cook with. I've made stewed durian here on a number of occasions and found them to be acceptable. I have yet to find durians that I would eat outright though.

chez pim

not an arbiter of taste

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My ex, a charming Sikh born in Malaysia, definitively described the Durian Experience as "eating the most delicate of custards in a public toilet". 'Nuf said!

Theabroma

Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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  • 2 weeks later...
What are your experiences with this interesting fruit?

In Thailand, many hotels will have a picture of the fruit w/a red line through it and circle, not wanting it in the hotel for the smell.

Ours was slightly chilled from being on ice when bought so it did not smell overly bad. The creamy texture was interesting, I thougt it was so-so.

My wife was happy that there was a trash can nearby so she could spit it out. :smile:

"I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be"
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Durian, the famously smelly fruit that has been compared to the "the anus of a dead civet, wrapped in the year old unchanged football sock of a manchester united player"... and I unspeakably love the stuff.

Probably a result of having grown up in a country where we'll go to pains to get good durians (my parents took me on frequent 6 hour long drives to get to various durian farms), it's one of the things I miss most whilst in the US. Amusingly one of the standard things to do to unsuspecting friends from non-asian countries is to take them out to the late-night durian stands and watch their growing horror as the smell gets closer. hee.

For anyone new to the fruit I actually would not try to start out with candy or other derivatives. Very few food items seem to be able to replicate the intense flavor of durian, and the only ones I've found are durian puffs (a take on cream puffs) and possibly durian cream cake, but both are made with fresh, local durians. I feel like more people I've introduced to the fruit like it if they dive in the deep end of the pool and have actual fresh durian as their first experience. Also the probability that one will like it increases if you have a penchant for aged cheese. Anyhow, hope that more people give the fruit a chance beyond its novelty value - its worth acquiring the taste!

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OK, my thoughts on durian:

When I was 10-12, I used to hate it. I went back to Malaysia this past summer (aged 38) and no longer hate it. I had a section apiece of three of four durian last month. The best I had was a red durian (not really red, just with a red tint) just picked from a friend's durian tree, and it was truly delicious. Durian does smell bad and the taste is definitely not for everyone. I do prefer rambutan, on the whole. And durian is very rich and filling, so one section was enough for me. But at its best, it is an excellent, truly unique fruit with a complex taste that can be really unexpected.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I feel durian is best when used in a sweet/savory preparation. Foie Gras pairings are nice. You also need a fat riesling with a light amount of sugar to stand up to its rich complex nature.

Malaysians don't drink wine much, especially the Malays, who are Muslims and live in much of the prime durian-growing land in Malaysia. And I'm trying to imagine durian with foie gras; on the face of it, it sounds too rich because you're combining a very rich fruit with a lot of animal fat. Durians have a higher percentage of fat than any other fruit except avocado, I've been told. Does anyone have definitive information on this?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Durian, the famously smelly fruit that has been compared to the "the anus of a dead civet, wrapped in the year old unchanged football sock of a manchester united player"... and I unspeakably love the stuff.

That's just beautiful.

I like durian, but I don't love it. It's good. But it definitely is an acquired taste.

Bruce

Edited by Schneier (log)
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  • 3 months later...

I brought it to a "geek party" one time, on a platter of alien-looking fruit and veggies. Anyone who got close to it ran away.

Finally one of the host took a meat cleaver to it. The result was like a stimk bomb being let loose in the large hall. People fled from it! The brave soul dipped his finger in the durian's creamy center and tasted it, & nearly retched!

Well, this became something of a legend in our circle of friends, and so I often find durian foods in the local asian food stores and bring them to parties. (although it sometimes backfires, as some of the items are themselves too rotten-smelling to get near!

After the Durian of Doom incident, my car stunk for a week from having the durian in the TRUNK. :wacko:

durian.jpg

Edited by laurenmilan (log)

"Give me 8 hours, 3 people, wine, conversation and natural ingredients and I'll give you one of the best nights in your life. Outside of this forum - there would be no takers."- Wine_Dad, egullet.org

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A few days ago I went to the Hong Kong market in Houston (amazing place), and to my surprise they had a whole freezer bin (the ones without top, like the ones they have trukeys in for thankgiving) full of the fruit. I grabbed one and smelled it...Nothing, no smell what so ever. Why would that be? Was it because it was frozen. I was tempted to buy one, $0.79/lb, but decided against it fearing that it will stink up my house once it reaches room temp.

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  • 2 weeks later...

my folks like it (bleagh)

sometimes they'd buy a bag of it.

how expensive?

Hmmmm about $10 to $20 a fruit expensive.

They'd lay it out on newspapers and crack open stinky fruit after another.

I'd be hiding in the living room or long gone.

Do not expect INTJs to actually care about how you view them. They already know that they are arrogant bastards with a morbid sense of humor. Telling them the obvious accomplishes nothing.

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It smells terrible, but have you ever tried eating a section of one that was picked the day before?

i've eaten them from the roadside stalls along the trunk roads of West Malaysia.

still gross

Do not expect INTJs to actually care about how you view them. They already know that they are arrogant bastards with a morbid sense of humor. Telling them the obvious accomplishes nothing.

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I used to hate it, and I still prefer rambutan, but the section of red durian I had that had been picked from my friend's tree the day before was great.

That said, durian is definitely an acquired taste that many people do not acquire.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I am not a fan of durian and don't particularly like the smell but I'll eat a segment or two if there's some around (it somehow becomes less smelly if you eat some!). Malaysian durians tend to be more stinky/fragrant (depending on which camp you're in :biggrin:) than Thai ones.

Though durian is banned by most hotels, the Chinese restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental in KL serves a rather yummy durian pancake dessert - prime durian flesh with a dollop of whipped cream wrapped in soft thin pancake ... and I don't want to know the the fat content or calories for it. There's also another upscale restaurant in KL which does a durian souffle.

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I encountered durian in the flesh for the first time quite by accident during a trip to SE asia last year; at the time I wrote:

While at the mall [Panthip Plaza in Bangkok --ed], we stopped in the local version of a food court, which was actually quite tasty, with one terrifying exception...

Miranda came back to our seat with a number of things on her plate, including a fruit concoction that looked kind of like pureed greenish mango over rice.  She had a few spoonfuls and said "I think this might be durian...it's not bad, want to try it?"

Tactical error number one: not running away immediately once the name of durian was invoked. 

Figuring that since she'd had a few bites and was neither gagging nor clutching her throat it was probably safe, I put a very very small bit (not even a quarter of a teaspoon) on a spoon and put it in my mouth.  That was tactical error number two.

You would probably expect that nothing which people refer to as a "fruit" could smell and taste like rotting meat.  A reasonable expectation, but I am sad to report an incorrect one.  This stuff tasted and smelled like...well, actually it smelled EXACTLY like the meat section of the town market in Siam Reap, Cambodia.  Possibly even worse, since at least in the market I could (and did) hold my breath, whereas here the offending odor was IN MY MOUTH.  I'm sure you're thinking "it can't possibly be that bad."  Actually, it was worse.

Wanting to get rid of this stuff as quickly as possible, I made my third, final, and worst tactical error: I swallowed.  That wasn't a problem in and of itself, but about 30 seconds later, with the aid of the soda I had washed it down with, I burped.  And suddenly the horror was back in full force, along with the sinking realization that it was going to keep coming back every few seconds for the next half an hour.  If I could have opted for an on-the-spot execution, I would have.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Miranda insists that it wasn't that bad: she described the taste as "creamy, a bit like raisins and onions" and insists that it tastes not at all like rotting meat.  She even mostly finished it.  I am not 100% convinced even now that she wasn't having me on, but I can't imagine anybody voluntarily eating that much durian even for the sake of a very good joke.  She maintains even now, sitting next to me, that it tastes good.  I love her regardless, but I would advise approaching any strange fruits you find here in Thailand with EXTREME CAUTION.

On a happier note, we tried mangosteens earlier in the day, and they were wonderful, like a combination of lychee and tangerines.  We both agree on that one.

(The full travelogue is here for the curious.)

My theory on durian: like cilantro, the ability to taste the horrific bits may be a genetically inherited trait.

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Suvir, Shiewie, Pan, and any eGulletteers who have tasted ripe jackfruit, palmyra palm fruit [borassus flabellifer, tal in India, but found from Africa to Indonesia], woodapple [Feronia], how do these compare to durian? I love all of the above but have never tasted durian. Curiously, excellent longans grow in Bengal, but their flavor is deprecated and that of lichees esteemed.

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