Adding Stinky Durian to my List of Favorite Food Oddities

durian sticky rice

Durian. It’s native to southeast Asia and often called the “King of Fruits”. Because of its size? Its pungent odor? Or is it because its thorny outside resembles the spikes of a king’s crown?


photo by Hans A. Rosbach

Regardless of where it got its nickname, it’s a pretty polarizing fruit. Much like natto, it seems like people either love it or hate it. While researching the fruit for this post I found everything from an “I love Durian” facebook page to numerous bloggers dedicating posts to their nemesis, the durian.

I always assumed that durian would be one of those things that I would just never try. The extreme reactions I would often see people have when they ate durian petrified me. Case in point, this guy’s reaction.  Plus, I remember being horrified by the smell as a child.


photo by Hans A. Rosbach

But one day Neal brought home sweet sticky rice from the Asian market. It had this tiny schmear of yellowish stuff on top that I thought was mango so I just ate it —- hold up, this ain’t mango! I sniffed it. Yup, that’s gotta be durian. But wait, I wasn’t throwing up or retching. Could I like this stuff? It was hard to tell because there was only the tiniest bit.

Thus began the quest to find durian in Atlanta. I didn’t find fresh durian at my normal Asian store haunts but I did find it frozen. I let it thaw in my fridge overnight and the next day I gave it a go.

frozen durian


ME: It tastes like a wonderfully sweet custard.

NEAL: I only tried a tiny bit, but it was not good. I immediately wanted to spit out the sweet, rotten-tasting, onion-y mush swimming around my mouth.


ME: It has a strong pungent smell. It smells like durian. I like the smell. I don’t get the onions or stinky feet thing at all that people use to describe the smell.

NEAL: It smells kind of like decaying food compost. Throw in a bit of stinky feet and body odor and you’re getting close. The smell lingers…


ME: Custard, custard, custard!…with a little stringiness. It melts in my mouth.

NEAL: It’s soft and squishy. Like a moldy peach sitting in it’s own oozy juices.


ME: They look like yellow alien pods. Or big yellow larvae.

NEAL: Inside the durian, it looks like a little jaundiced baby alien fetus. It’s yellow. No thanks.


ME: I would eat this all day, errday if I could! (Can’t. This pack was $9.) I would love to find this fresh or whole. It’s just soooo good. I love it so hard! In fact, I want some right now.

NEAL: I might try this again perhaps in the distant future. When my tastebuds have disintegrated.

The King of Fruits polarizes again. It’s almost as if it changes the way it tastes for different people. Maybe it should be called magical fruit. Or tranformers fruit…more than meets the eye.

Nutritionally, durian is rich in vitamin C and B-complex, potassium and also has a high amount of tryptophan. Perhaps that explains my giddiness when I eat it?durian

If you decide to try durian (or perhaps you’re already a fan? maybe you’re the person who started the durian facebook page?)…know that it is perfectly decadent on its own. But it also pairs wonderfully with sweet coconut sticky rice.

durian with sticky rice

For this sweet sticky rice I loosely followed the recipe from Spice Island Vegan. Then I just piled on the duriany goodness.durian with sticky rice

Have you had durian before? If so, what do you think of it? If not, do you think you’ll try some?

42 thoughts on “Adding Stinky Durian to my List of Favorite Food Oddities

    1. luminousvegans Post author

      Ooh, thanks for the heads up. I will definitely keep my eye out on my next trip to YDFM. Do you happen to know what the price is? I was quite shocked at the sticker price of the frozen one, so I am imagining all these crazy prices for the whole, fresh one.

  1. RG

    Awesome review and photos! Funny enough the first time I tried Durian was on a Valentines day date as a dessert with sweet sticky rice. Good thing both Chris and I liked it- Or maybe he was just being polite? After all, Durian is indeed polarizing. You’re brave enough to try it in the kitchen, kudos to you! I remember as a kid I would be asked to leave the room if my auntie would have to peel and open up Durian fresh from Davao (province in the Philippines where Durian grows). Anyway, thanks for this post. Yay Durian.

    1. luminousvegans Post author

      Thanks! Oh my gosh, how disastrous would it have been if one of you had not liked it and then someone leaned in for that Valentines kiss…and wham..durian breath! ha ha. I’m glad that you both ended up liking it though.

      I’m hoping that the smell doesn’t linger too much. As it goes, I like the smell so I don’t really notice it all that much. But every time I take a nibble from the air tight container, Neal is always like *sniff sniff* — did you just eat durian? He puts up with it though. 🙂

  2. coconutandberries

    hahaha, I laughed out loud reading this! It looks pretty cool all spiky but I admit it reminds me of some kind of organ without it’s “shell” ! I’ve heard about durian and would like to try it some time. Your description and recipes certainly make it sound much more appealing.

    1. luminousvegans Post author

      Yeah, we each wrote our responses without seeing what the other wrote because I didn’t want either of us to be influenced by the other. It’s funny how different (except for the alien thing. lol) our responses are. Also, his reason for not eating it because it’s yellow cracks me up. Isn’t corn yellow? How about squash? Hmmm.

      If you get brave enough to try it, I’d love to know what you think of it.

  3. pamela

    lol I laughed so hard reading your two very different reactions. I am on Neal’s side. My husband agrees with you. We have also had the candy made from durain. Same reactions. I hated it . My husband loved it.

    1. luminousvegans Post author

      Oooh, durian candy sounds amazing! When I find a new food that I love I become obsessed with it, so I would totally eat durian candy…and durian ice cream…and anything else that is vegan and has durian in it 🙂

  4. thoughtsaboutveganism

    Hi, I’m also on Neal’s side with the smell especially. I just had in Indonesia. I tried it in Martabak – my favorite food ever – it’s just wonderful!
    When I tried the fruit fresh – it was like a different world!!!! Once I managed to get over the horrible smell I got to taste the most amazing thing ever. The combination of taste and texture is like …. wow …. I have no words!!!

    btw – great job on your post – I love it!

    1. luminousvegans Post author

      Thank you! Ooh, what is Martabak? I really enjoyed the frozen durian, so I can’t even imagine how wonderful breaking into a fresh one is. I’ve also heard that there are many varieties of durian, each with its own distinctive taste. I’d love to try more.

  5. cookeasyvegan

    Great review! I loved the alternating responses. I’ve never tried durian, but Neal’s descriptions leave me feeling a little cautious. 🙂

    1. luminousvegans Post author

      Thanks! It’s definitely an interesting fruit and something not guaranteed to please everyone. It’s worth trying in a small dose first if possible before spending more money on it. It is quite pricey.

    1. luminousvegans Post author

      Yup, that’s how I felt too. I am glad that I accidently tried it that day. I’d say if you can try it in a small dose, like at a restaurant (?), do that before investing in a large fruit. It can be quite pricey. Maybe if we ever meet in real life, I’ll put in a dish without you knowing 🙂

  6. clairesuellentrop

    This post was hysterical, and almost EXACTLY summed up the reactions of my friends and I when we first tried durian a few months ago. The room was divided nearly in half between the “Yum, this tastes like custard!” camp and the “This is so gross, get it out of the house immediately” camp.

    I leaned more toward the “Yum” side, but with a bit of reservation about how terribly the stuff stinks up the fridge. Now that I’m living in China, though, it’s a little more accessible, and I just discovered the amazingness of–get this–durian pastries. Will definitely have to work on veganizing them, because HOLY YUM, they are everything that is great about durian, with none of the weird onion-y-ness left over.

    Thanks for makin’ my day with this one!

    1. luminousvegans Post author

      Oh my, durian pastries! They sound lovely. Whenever I like a new food I become obsessed with it for a while, so I’m all about trying to see what other durian food products are out there. I know I’ve seen durian coconut ice cream that I wanna try.

      I keep the durian in an air tight container in the fridge and it keeps the smell pretty contained. But Neal can always tell from across the house when I’ve been eating it. And then I have to burn a candle or something to get rid of the smell 🙂

  7. Maggie Muggins

    I don’t know dude, I’ve never heard of durian before but Neal’s reaction kind of killed it for me. Stinky feet with the texture of stringy mush, ah, I think I’ll pass on this one 😛

  8. Hannah

    I don’t have many food fears, but this is definitely one of them! If it was presented to me I would probably try it, but I don’t know if I would seek it out. I will say that I had durian ice cream once and it was really really good. Mango-ish. So maybe I would love it?

    1. luminousvegans Post author

      I have seen durian coconut ice cream at the farmer’s market. I’m gonna have to pick some up. I’ll try it out and let you know how close it is to the unadulterated durian 🙂


    I had durian before and it is not one my favorite fruits. I remembered seeing signs of “no DURIANS allowed” at most public places in Malaysia, and if you are in a market filled with durians, it’s more pungent. What a cool idea – using durian instead of mango with sticky rice!

    1. luminousvegans Post author

      It’s definitely not a fruit for everyone. I can understand why they do not allow it in some public areas. While some may love the smell, those who don’t seem to really despise it. There was a link in my blog post about how the odor of durian was mistaken for a gas leak! 😛

  10. Shariff Fudin Cpi

    I am a native SouthEast Asian and I find the smell (especially the after smell it leaves in the car!) repulsive!

    I tried eating it once. I get full quickly consuming one or two.

    Not very keen but willing to try it again.

  11. Katie

    It’s been years since I tried Durian and I remember not liking it at the time, but my tastebuds have changed a lot since then. This makes me want to give it another try! 🙂

    1. luminousvegans Post author

      Yes, definitely give it another go! I think my tastebuds and olfactory senses have changed as well now that I am older. I don’t think I would have enjoyed Durian in my “youth” but it’s definitely a fave now.

  12. creativespin

    Fascinated! I have no doubt that I will try this someday. But I’ll wait until I can have it prepared by somebody who knows what they’re doing. I don’t want to mess it up and then hate it because I fixed it wrong.

    I wonder why some foods are so polarizing: cilantro, durian, eggplant, tequila….

    1. luminousvegans Post author

      Ha ha! I love how tequila is tacked on your list of polarizing foods. I wonder that too though. Durian is definitely worth trying. I’m glad I gave it a shot because now I love it!

  13. Riza

    Hi im from singapore. We have it whole year round. We get our durian mostly from Malaysia & fresh. The shops just set up tables and peeled it in front of us. Prices ranges frm sgd5 each to sgd25 or more depending on grades. Eat too much and u’ll feel ‘heaty’ at night. Ur body will be very warm u’d want to sleep without ur top especially in our tropical weather.
    We also have dessert cafes solely for durian lovers. They have durian-wrapped crepes, durian cakes, durian puffs (instead of cream puffs), durian eclairs and many more.. and it’s all fresh!! Don’t forget ur dose of durian when u visit singapore.

    1. luminousvegans Post author

      Hi! I am so jealous that you have it fresh and year round. One day I will be able to visit a country (maybe Singapore!) where I can eat it fresh. That is my dream! The frozen one was good but I know fresh ones are much better. I’ve also read that there can be subtle differences in tastes based on the variety of durian which I am really curious about.

      I read that it can make you “heaty” but I guess I didn’t eat enough for that to happen. I can’t believe how many durian desserts there are there. That definitely sounds like a durian lovers dream come true. If I ever get a chance to visit Singapore, I will make sure to eat as much fresh durian as possible there! Yum!

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

      1. Riza

        As a durian lover, I’m obliged to reply. Yes! The have it bittersweet XO grade. One would liken this to the taste of sweet liquor thus the name given. And they havr it in different textures as well. All with distinct sweetness. Singapore and Malaysia and Thailand are some of the country with fresh durians. And Malaysia do have organised trip to durian farm whr u can eat it fresh off the farm itself!!

        Do get a local to bring u around. otherwise they’ll mark up the price if they know u’re tourist.

  14. asdasdffasd

    Thai durians are bland compared to Malaysian ones. Do try the super creamy & fragrant Mao Shan Wang (Cat Mountain King) aka Butter durian and Golden Phoenix (small-seeded) if you have the chance.

  15. rubusleucodermis

    Amazing complex flavor, often with savory components to go with the sweet, and probably the sweetest fruit I have ever tasted, ice-cream sweet in fact. Never tastes exactly the same twice. Vanilla, melon, and onion are probably the most common flavors I note. Sometimes butterscotch, banana, caramel, or bitter-garlicy notes. Overall ranges from “meh” to “indescribably delicious” depending on the individual sample.

    Smells strong (an over-the-top, overripe tropical fruity smell plus some sort of sulphur-containing industrial solvent), but not vile like something decomposing or unwholesome like durian-haters claim. Tastes very different from how it smells, which is unusual for a food.

    Makes an excellent vegan crepe filling (amongst other things).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s