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The way to Select and Minimize a Durian, In accordance with a Grower

On the earth of delicacy meals, few benefit from the stage of fame or notoriety because the durian. Typically referred to as the “king of fruits,” the tropical crop evokes widespread fervor, particularly in its native Southeast Asia, the place it seems in numerous dishes like shaved ice, truffles, cream puffs, and even pizza. Even individuals who don’t essentially know the best way to lower a durian’s famously robust outer shell are aware of the decadence of the flesh inside. 

It’s laborious to neglect one’s first encounter with durian. After I was in center college, I noticed one on my uncle’s kitchen counter and couldn’t look away, intimidated by the massive fruit’s menacingly spiked husk. However as soon as he cracked open the robust exterior and scooped the graceful flesh out of the hull, I sampled a small spoonful—and was spellbound. The fruit was so creamy and buttery that it tasted virtually like custard. My uncle then put a portion of durian flesh right into a glass container and positioned it within the freezer. After we pulled it out just a few hours later, the frozen fruit’s texture had turn into much more heavenly, akin to ice cream.

durian flesh how to eat durian

Courtesy of 99 Outdated Timber

Not everybody would agree. Durian could also be one of the vital divisive flavors on the market; the fruit has a famously sturdy odor stemming from odor-producing genetics, and although many discover it nice or just impartial (my colleague Kat Craddock aptly described it as “sort of like melon”), detractors discover its perfume off-putting at finest and nauseating at worst. In actual fact, sufficient individuals fall into the latter camp that there are “no durian” indicators posted in lots of mass-transit methods, accommodations, and different public areas all through Southeast Asia.

Nonetheless, I encourage you to not be postpone by any hyperbolic remarks you would possibly hear about its scent. The odor and style are daring and complicated, and for durian lovers (like me), the fruit’s milky, custard notes prevail over its sulfurous musk.

After I visited Kelvin Tan, co-owner of the durian store 99 Outdated Timber in Singapore, he taught me that not all durians are created equal, and that it takes a little bit of know-how to pick out a specimen  that’s aromatic and candy fairly than overly stenchy or bitter. He additionally inspired me to not be daunted by the duty of reducing it open; with the best instruments and a few practiced precision, the reward of luscious durian flesh is effectively inside attain. Right here’s the best way to unlock the potential of this one-of-a-kind taste and wrest even the spikiest fruit, primarily based on tried-and-true tips from a durian professional.

What you want (supplies, instruments, components, cooking utensils, and so on.)

  • giant, sharp knife (like a chef’s knife or cleaver)
  • thick kitchen gloves and/or tea towels

STEP 1: Select a cultivar.

There are numerous commercially cultivated kinds of durian available on the market immediately, however Mao Shan Wang, also referred to as Musang King, is arguably essentially the most coveted. Not solely does the pulp-to-husk ratio are usually larger than in different cultivars, the flesh can be particularly creamy and candy.

The Sultan cultivar gives a milder, extra balanced taste, with only a trace of bitterness. “Many durian connoisseurs in Singapore really hunt down this bitter style,” notes Tan. When climate circumstances are proper, the flesh could even begin to ferment, making a slight alcoholic aftertaste, “like biting into tiramisu,” he provides.

Different beloved varieties embrace the super-sweet, orange-fleshed Purple Prawn, and the dryly named D101, identified for its mild sweetness and buttery texture.

Many of the world’s durians come from Thailand and Malaysia, the place the fruit is on the market recent throughout two seasons, from June to September and from December to February. In Thailand, growers usually pluck their harvest straight from the tree, whereas producers in Malaysia historically await the ripe fruit to fall to the bottom. Yi-Jun Loh, the Malaysia-based meals author behind the weblog Jun & Tonic, suggests durian first-timers begin with varieties from Thailand, which he finds to be much less pungent, with extra floral, fruity taste.

In the event you occur to have a specialty purveyor close to you, this would be the finest place to search out a number of cultivars and recent, high-quality fruit. In any other case, go to your native Asian grocery store to see if it carries durian, or order on-line from a fruit provider

STEP 2: Search for visible cues.

When choosing your durian, Tan recommends on the lookout for specimens with considerably inexperienced, grey, or brown husks. If the husk is beginning to yellow or blacken, that’s an indication the fruit could also be getting previous.

It’s additionally essential to establish any splits within the husk. “If there are slight hair-like cracks, these are fairly regular. However if you happen to see huge cracks, particularly horizontal ones, it’s an enormous no-no,” explains Tan. Darkish spots are one other crimson flag, as these could also be wormholes.

One other issue to bear in mind: symmetrically formed durians are usually simpler to open.

In case your native retailers solely carry durian pulp that has already been faraway from the husk, search for a barely wrinkled texture. “This is a sign that the fruit is absolutely ripe, and comfortable and creamy on the within,” says Tan. Alternatively, if the floor of the pulp is easy and “appears like a potato,” the flesh is more likely to be laborious, underripe, and tasteless.

STEP 3: Minimize open the durian.

When you’ve chosen your durian, establish the faint traces that radiate from the bottom of the fruit (reverse the stem finish). There are often 5 seams, in a star form, which signify the place the a number of pods of flesh inside are situated. These seams are the place the husk will most simply break up.

Get your knife. On a flat work floor, and both sporting gloves or utilizing a tea towel to keep up a agency grip, regular the durian together with your non-dominant hand. Maintain the knife in your dominant hand and, if the durian nonetheless has its stem, lower it off. Subsequent, firmly however fastidiously slide the tip of the knife straight into the intersection of the seams. As soon as the size of the blade has penetrated about three inches, wiggle the knife gently, twisting it backwards and forwards till the vertical seams begin to break up alongside the size of the husk. Fastidiously take away the knife from the fruit.

If any of the seams don’t break up all the way in which, use your knife to slice alongside it, ranging from the incision you simply made and dealing your solution to inside just a few inches of the stem.

Grip the husk on both aspect of the deepest fissure and pry it aside. Do the identical for every break up. 

STEP 4: Scoop out the flesh.

It’s best to now see huge luscious mounds of durian. Use a spoon to scoop them out of the husk. Slice off and discard any imperfections or brown discolorations within the flesh; take away and discard the seeds, and discard the husk. And voila! Durian flesh to your enjoyment.

STEP 5: Take pleasure in!

After you have your durian pulp in hand, there are numerous methods to eat it. In the event you love the uncooked style, you possibly can, in fact, chow down instantly. However for a lot of, the way in which to durian enlightenment is to make use of the fruit in a decadent dessert to downplay its pungence with different flavors and textures. For instance, strive incorporating the pulp right into a scrumptious baked good: “You should use a base recipe for banana bread, however as a substitute of bananas, you set in durian,” suggests Loh. “That seems actually, very nice.”

durian pandan layer cake chalk farm

Courtesy of Chalk Farm

To point out individuals how versatile and lovable the ingredient may be, Tan sells an in depth dessert line-up with self-deprecating names. (I’m keen on the Smelly Bomb, a choux puff stuffed with durian cream, and Smelly Roll, a Swiss roll made with ethereal sponge cake and durian custard). Elsewhere in Singapore, the famed Chalk Farm bakery folds the pulp into burnt durian cheesecake and Durian Salat, an impressed tackle the traditional kueh salat (a dessert made with glutinous rice and coconut milk), whereas Emicakes focuses on durian-filled layer truffles and cream puffs

12 months after yr, individuals await durian season with eagerness all throughout Asia, the place love for the fruit is widespread and ardent. In the event you’re new to durian, give it a shot and also you would possibly catch on to what all of the fanfare is about. Despite the fact that I really like the style of pure durian taste, generally just a few elaborations assist mellow the fruit’s funk. That’s why I developed this no-churn durian ice cream—it’s easy and easy, and at all times jogs my memory of my first time tasting the king of fruits.


No-Churn Durian Ice Cream

Images by Paola + Murray; Meals Styling by Olivia Mack McCool; Prop Styling by Sophie Strangio

Get the recipe >


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