Durians, King Of Fruits


The Durian has always been known as the king of fruits in South East Asia. In all parts of Malaysia, people are nuts about durians. The people of Sabah are no different, especially the Chinese. Durians has an incredibly powerful aroma, you either love it or hate it. I am sure many of our foreign friends have heard of it, some has gone so far as to taste it. When asked to describe the taste or smell of Durians, the best description that comes to mind is that it tastes like vanilla. But not as sharp, and has a more complex flavor and body to it.

Durian, King of Fruits

Durian, King of Fruits

I recall a conversation with my brother in law a few months back. He is one of the few Australians I know who professes to love durians. As far as he knows, none of his friends could even come close to durians. One guy I met referred to durian as the fruit that smells like puke. He wasn’t being nasty, it was the only way he could describe the fruit. The thing is you never know if you will like it unless you tried it. This just goes to show you what I have always said about my brother in law - he is a confused Gwailo (a term assigned to all white foreigner by the Chinese). For instance, he likes balacan (a Malay paste used in cooking or as a dip), which again is one of those local food that has an incredible and unforgettable aroma, and wonderful taste. Balacan smells like an unwashed and often used gym shoe. However, it is absolutely delicious and makes all the dishes you cook with it taste divine. If you can come to terms with its aroma, I can guarantee you that it is one of the most unique and delicious food you have ever tried.

Back to durians, I am impartial to durians. I like the taste and texture of the fruit, and I like durian flavored ice-cream. However, I can go for years without eating the fruit. It has been years since I’ve actually bought or eaten any durians. Nowadays, I just open them up for my family. There is a trick to opening durians, brute force isn’t going to do it. You push a your cleaver at the bottom of the fruit, and by twisting your cleaver, the durian opens cleanly. It goes without saying that a piece of pad or thick cotton cloth helps to hold the durian in place. Otherwise, a thick sheaf of newspaper will do the job.

After eating, there is a trick to get rid of the durian smell from your fingers. You use the shell of the durian, fill it with water and pour it over your fingers. That will get rid of the smell faster and better than washing with soap. I know, it doesn’t make sense but it works. One more thing, it is advisable to drink a cup of water mixed with salt. It helps to settle your digestion from the durian.

Try Opening A Durian

Try Opening A Durian

Anyway, in an recently article in the Malaysian newspaper, it seems that the younger generation, people in their 20’s are not as fond of the fruit as the people in their 50’s, ie the older generation. Would we see the durian being dethroned as the king of fruits? It used to be that when the durian season arrived, you could buy the fruit anywhere in Kota Kinabalu. I recall how we used to go to Tanjung Aru beach to pick out durians, off the back of the pick-up trucks that were selling them.

My personal opinion is that the quality of local grown durians has dropped drastically since the 70’s. It used to be in season once a year, and suddenly we saw durians coming into season at different times of the year. I do not know what happened, but since then durian has lost its flavor. Add to the fact that supermarkets import low quality durians from Thailand, we pretty much sealed the fate of durians.

A note about durians
Durians are banned in all hotels. They will not allow you to bring durians back to your hotel room. And it’s near impossible to smuggle a durian up to your room without anyone noticing. That’s how strong the aroma of durians are.

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This entry was posted on Friday, March 20th, 2009 at 2:02 pm and is filed under Eating Out. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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