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.
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?
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.
For this sweet sticky rice I loosely followed the recipe from Spice Island Vegan. Then I just piled on the duriany goodness.
Have you had durian before? If so, what do you think of it? If not, do you think you’ll try some?