December 8, 2022


Cooking Is My World

How to Choose and Cut a Durian, According to a Grower

In the planet of delicacy foods, couple of appreciate the degree of fame or notoriety as the durian. Normally named the “king of fruits,” the tropical crop conjures up common fervor, in particular in its native Southeast Asia, the place it seems in innumerable dishes like shaved ice, cakes, cream puffs, and even pizza. Even persons who don’t necessarily know how to slash a durian’s famously tough outer shell are common with the decadence of the flesh within. 

It’s tough to fail to remember one’s 1st come across with durian. When I was in center faculty, I saw 1 on my uncle’s kitchen counter and couldn’t glimpse away, intimidated by the enormous fruit’s menacingly spiked husk. But after he cracked open the tough exterior and scooped the clean flesh out of the hull, I sampled a little spoonful—and was spellbound. The fruit was so creamy and buttery that it tasted just about like custard. My uncle then put a part of durian flesh into a glass container and put it in the freezer. When we pulled it out a number of hrs later, the frozen fruit’s texture had come to be even extra heavenly, akin to ice product.

durian flesh how to eat durian

Courtesy of 99 Previous Trees

Not everybody would concur. Durian may be 1 of the most divisive flavors out there the fruit has a famously potent odor stemming from odor-developing genetics, and even though lots of find it pleasant or merely neutral (my colleague Kat Craddock aptly described it as “kind of like melon”), detractors locate its fragrance off-putting at greatest and nauseating at worst. In fact, more than enough folks drop into the latter camp that there are “no durian” indications posted in quite a few mass-transit methods, lodges, and other community spaces through Southeast Asia.

Continue to, I motivate you not to be put off by any hyperbolic remarks you might hear about its scent. The odor and flavor are daring and sophisticated, and for durian lovers (like me), the fruit’s milky, custard notes prevail around its sulfurous musk.

When I visited Kelvin Tan, co-proprietor of the durian store 99 Previous Trees in Singapore, he taught me that not all durians are established equal, and that it can take a little bit of know-how to pick a specimen  that is fragrant and sweet somewhat than extremely stenchy or bitter. He also encouraged me not to be daunted by the job of cutting it open with the proper tools and some practiced precision, the reward of luscious durian flesh is perfectly inside arrive at. Here’s how to unlock the opportunity of this a person-of-a-variety flavor and wrest even the spikiest fruit, dependent on tried out-and-true tips from a durian professional.

What you want (materials, tools, substances, cooking utensils, etcetera.)

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

Step 1: Decide on a cultivar.

There are quite a few commercially cultivated types of durian on the industry these days, but Mao Shan Wang, also identified as Musang King, is arguably the most coveted. Not only does the pulp-to-husk ratio tend to be better than in other cultivars, the flesh is also specifically creamy and sweet.

The Sultan cultivar offers a milder, a lot more well balanced taste, with just a trace of bitterness. “Many durian connoisseurs in Singapore truly seek out this bitter style,” notes Tan. When climate situations are correct, the flesh may well even start out to ferment, building a slight alcoholic aftertaste, “like biting into tiramisu,” he adds.

Other beloved kinds involve the super-sweet, orange-fleshed Red Prawn, and the dryly named D101, identified for its light sweetness and buttery texture.

Most of the world’s durians arrive from Thailand and Malaysia, where by the fruit is accessible clean during two seasons, from June to September and from December to February. In Thailand, growers ordinarily pluck their harvest specifically from the tree, while producers in Malaysia historically hold out for the ripe fruit to slide to the floor. Yi-Jun Loh, the Malaysia-based mostly food writer powering the site Jun & Tonic, suggests durian initial-timers commence with varieties from Thailand, which he finds to be considerably less pungent, with far more floral, fruity taste.

If you occur to have a specialty purveyor around you, this will be the finest put to uncover a number of cultivars and fresh new, substantial-quality fruit. Otherwise, go to your neighborhood Asian supermarket to see if it carries durian, or buy on-line from a fruit supplier

Action 2: Seem for visual cues.

When picking out your durian, Tan suggests seeking for specimens with considerably inexperienced, gray, or brown husks. If the husk is beginning to yellow or blacken, which is a indication the fruit may well be receiving aged.

It’s also vital to discover any splits in the husk. “If there are slight hair-like cracks, people are pretty usual. But if you see massive cracks, especially horizontal ones, it’s a big no-no,” describes Tan. Darkish spots are another red flag, as these may perhaps be wormholes.

Another issue to hold in head: symmetrically shaped durians have a tendency to be much easier to open up.

If your neighborhood outlets only carry durian pulp that has already been eliminated from the husk, appear for a a bit wrinkled texture. “This is an indicator that the fruit is totally ripe, and soft and creamy on the inside,” suggests Tan. On the other hand, if the area of the pulp is sleek and “looks like a potato,” the flesh is most likely to be tricky, underripe, and tasteless.

Move 3: Lower open up the durian.

After you have chosen your durian, discover the faint strains that radiate from the foundation of the fruit (opposite the stem stop). There are ordinarily 5 seams, in a star shape, which signify exactly where the numerous pods of flesh inside are situated. These seams are exactly where the husk will most easily split.

Get your knife. On a flat operate surface, and either sporting gloves or employing a tea towel to manage a firm grip, regular the durian with your non-dominant hand. Maintain the knife in your dominant hand and, if the durian nevertheless has its stem, minimize it off. Following, firmly but meticulously slide the suggestion of the knife straight into the intersection of the seams. Once the length of the blade has penetrated about a few inches, wiggle the knife gently, twisting it back and forth until the vertical seams begin to split together the length of the husk. Thoroughly remove the knife from the fruit.

If any of the seams really don’t split all the way, use your knife to slice together it, beginning from the incision you just produced and working your way to in just a number of inches of the stem.

Grip the husk on possibly aspect of the deepest fissure and pry it aside. Do the exact same for each individual break up. 

Action 4: Scoop out the flesh.

You must 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 in the flesh clear away and discard the seeds, and discard the husk. And voila! Durian flesh for your satisfaction.

Step 5: Delight in!

Once you have your durian pulp in hand, there are countless means to eat it. If you appreciate the uncooked flavor, you can, of program, chow down ideal away. But for numerous, the way to durian enlightenment is to use the fruit in a decadent dessert to downplay its pungence with other flavors and textures. For example, try out incorporating the pulp into a delicious baked great: “You can use a base recipe for banana bread, but in its place of bananas, you place in durian,” implies Loh. “That turns out definitely, seriously great.”

durian pandan layer cake chalk farm

Courtesy of Chalk Farm

To clearly show persons how versatile and lovable the ingredient can be, Tan sells an considerable dessert line-up with self-deprecating names. (I’m partial to the Stinky Bomb, a choux puff filled with durian product, and Smelly Roll, a Swiss roll created with airy sponge cake and durian custard). Somewhere else in Singapore, the famed Chalk Farm bakery folds the pulp into burnt durian cheesecake and Durian Salat, an influenced choose on the common kueh salat (a dessert created with glutinous rice and coconut milk), though Emicakes specializes in durian-loaded layer cakes and product puffs

Year immediately after calendar year, men and women await durian time with eagerness all across Asia, where by love for the fruit is widespread and ardent. If you are new to durian, give it a shot and you may well catch on to what all the fanfare is about. Even nevertheless I love the taste of pure durian flavor, at times a several gildings help mellow the fruit’s funk. That’s why I developed this no-churn durian ice cream—it’s basic and straightforward, and normally reminds me of my very first time tasting the king of fruits.


No-Churn Durian Ice Cream

Pictures by Paola + Murray Food items Styling by Olivia Mack McCool Prop Styling by Sophie Strangio

Get the recipe >