Durian, nicknamed the “king of fruits,” is a large, spiky, greenish-brown fruit that is well-loved in its native Southeast Asia. The fruit is known for its strong odor when ripe, which can vary depending on the variety of durian. Loved by many but also hated by many people due to its off-putting odor, it has even been banned from some public places and mass transit. This article will tell you everything that you need to know about it.
What is Durian?
Durian is primarily harvested in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, but the unusual fruit has become popular throughout Asia and can be found in Asian markets in the United States and the United Kingdom. Known as the “King of Fruits”, it weighs up to 4kg and is covered in spikes. Durians often crack open when ripe, making extracting the edible flesh inside relatively easy. A large knife or cleaver is otherwise used, and the white, yellow, or red flesh—beloved by many for its custardy texture and unique flavor—can be eaten raw or cooked. Its short season and limited shelf-life, as well as rising demand, means the fruit is relatively expensive, particularly when imported.
What does it taste like?
The taste of Durian is quite similar to ripped jackfruit. There are many opinions by different people on how a durian tastes. Some find it very pleasing, and some find it disgusting. The texture of Durian is creamy and cheesy. However, its odor has been described as resembling dirty gym socks, rotten eggs, cut onions, manure, and roadkill. Some describe the flesh as tasting similar, but fans of the fruit describe it as having notes of almond and a custard-like texture. When ripe, the flesh is uniquely tender and creamy. It is not acidic, overly sweet, or overly juicy.
How to cook with it?
Measuring the ripeness of durian and deciding when to prepare it is a matter of taste. Some like to eat slightly unripe durian before the fruit emits its strong odor and the flesh is still crisp. Many enjoy ripe durian when the odor is strong. Moreover, it is used in sweet and savory dishes. Both the creamy flesh and seeds are edible, though the seeds need to be cooked. Common food preparations of durian fruit include juice, side dishes, seeds-boiled or roasted, soup, candy, ice cream, and other desserts.
1. Durian ice cream
The soft yellow flesh at its center is the only edible part of the durian. Most people will eat it straight up, but some will eat it frozen or in desserts like smoothies or ice cream. I personally like it frozen because the rich custardy center tastes like soft-serve when frozen. I also like it incorporated into desserts like this ice cream recipe! The milk and sugar in most durian desserts help tone down its intense flavor.
- 4 to 6 segments of fresh, frozen, or canned durian, more as needed
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, or to taste
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup light cream
- Remove the seeds from the durian and scoop out the flesh into a mixer. On low to medium speed, mix the flesh into a paste.
- Press the paste through a fine sieve. You should have 4 ounces of durian paste at this point. (If not, use more durian.) Chill the durian paste until ready to use.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the vanilla essence and sugar.
- Bring the milk and cream to a near boil over medium heat and then reduce the heat to low. Pour in the egg mixture, stirring constantly to thicken. Take care not to let the mixture boil, or the milk will curdle.
- Once a thick consistency, remove from the heat and allow the custard to cool. Chill the custard in the freezer for 30 to 45 minutes, until it is just beginning to harden.
- Gradually stir in the durian paste, 1 tablespoon at a time, until completely incorporated.
- Either continue freezing, stirring several times throughout, or finish the ice cream in an ice cream maker.
2. Chicken and durian curry
This dish is an interesting combination of chicken and Durian curry. The Durian will have the texture of cooked potato when done. If you’ve ever wondered what eating durian in a savory manner instead of a sweet way would be like, this recipe has your name written all over It. This is both sweet and savory in the most surprising way, and if you’re in the mood for something different… Try it!
- 1tbsp coriander seeds (roasted)
- 1tsp cumin seeds (roasted)
- 5 shallots (roasted)
- 10cloves garlic (roasted)
- 15 dried red spur chilies (seeded and soaked in water till soft)
- 1tsp ground roasted ginger
- 1tsp ground roasted galangal
- 1tbsp sliced lemongrass
- 1tsp salt
- 2tsp curry powder
- 700ml coconut milk
- 3tbsp curry paste
- 500g chicken (cut into bite-sized pieces)
- 1tsp palm sugar
- 1tsp salt
- 2tbsp fish sauce
- 300g unripe durian (seeded and cut into pieces)
- curry leaves or garnishing
- To make curry paste: Pound coriander and cumin seeds thoroughly with a mortar and pestle. Add the shallots, garlic, chilies, ginger, galangal, lemongrass, and salt, and continue pounding till fine. Add the shrimp paste and curry powder and pound again to a fine paste.
- To make the curry: Place 120ml of coconut milk into a pot over medium heat and add the curry paste. Sauté until fragrant and oil separates. Add chicken, stir well and continue to cook for a few minutes. Add the rest of the coconut milk and allow it to boil.
- Season with palm sugar, salt, and fish sauce, then stir in the durian. Turn the heat to low and allow to simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. The durian will have the texture of cooked potato when done. Stir in the curry leaves, then remove from heat.
3. Durian cheesecake
It is another classic dessert enhanced with the delectable flavor of durian. The texture just adds more flavor and makes the cake even rich and creamy. This Durian Cheesecake is just like this, cheesy, creamy, and soft.
Biscuits base (mix all together):
- 170g digestive biscuits (crushed)
- 30g brown sugar
- 30g desiccated coconut
- 50g corn flakes
- 180g butter (melted)
- 500g cream cheese
- 100g icing sugar
- 20g cornflour
- 200g sour cream or natural yogurt
- 150g whipping cream
- 4 eggs
- 500g durian (mashed)
- Press the biscuit base into a springform pan of 23cm (9in) and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celcius.
- For durian filling, beat cream cheese and icing sugar until smooth, dissolve corn flour in sour cream, and mix into the cheese mixture.
- Blend in cream until mixture thickens and slowly beat in eggs one at a time.
- Lastly, add in the durian and mix until just combined.
- Pour filling on a biscuit base. Place cake pan in a water bath and bake for 50-60 minutes until filling is set but still wobbly at the center. Turn off the oven.
- Leave the cake in the oven for 30 minutes with the door ajar.
- Remove the cake from the water bath and allow the cake to cool before refrigerating overnight.
- Unmold the cake and garnish as desired. Serve.
4. Durian fritters
Local fruits, when in season and plentiful, are great for frying up into crispy fritters.
- 1 cup self-raising flour
- 1 TBSP rice flour
- ½ tsp salt or to taste
- 100ml coconut cream
- 3-4 TBSP sugar
- 250g durian pulp
- Combine all the ingredients except the durian pulp and mix well.
- Mash the durian pulp, then fold it into the rest of the batter.
- Heat oil to 170’C, drop spoonfuls of the durian mix into the oil and fry until they turn a light golden brown color, turning with a ladle to make sure they’re evenly cooked.
- Remove and drain on paper towels before serving.
Take the king of fruits and combine it with the ever fondly breakfast pancakes to enjoy a bold flavourful breakfast.
- 1 box of pancake flour
- 30 ml of vegetable oil
- 300 ml of water
- 1 large egg
- 500 gm durian (mashed)
- Mix the pancake flour, vegetable oil, water, and egg in a mixing bowl. Stir well.
- Preheat a crepe pan. Pan is ready when drops of water sizzle and disappear.
- Fold mashed durian into the pancake mixture.
- Pour ¼ cup of batter into the pan. Cook for 1 ½ minutes. When the bubbles at the edge of the batter pop and a hole are left which does not immediately close up, flip the cake gently.
- Cook the other side for 1 ½ minute or until golden.
Durian vs Jackfruit
Both of them may look similar in appearance but, there are many differences, especially the content inside. Let’s start with the fruit’s shape and size. Jackfruits are typically larger than durians. Additionally, durians have hard spiky skins (they can actually hurt you). In comparison, jackfruits have spikes that are small and harmless. Once ripened, both jackfruit and durian have a rich sweet taste. However, the taste and texture of both fruits are quite distinct. Jackfruits are sweet and somewhat crunchy while fully ripened durians are sweet and creamy and their texture is softer. Lastly, Jackfruit seeds are also edible. The most striking difference between jackfruit and durian is the smell.
Durian vs soursop
The main differences between soursop and durian are how they taste, how the skin looks, and what the inside looks like. Soursop looks like this stretched, curved, pear-shaped, green fruit with spikes from 10 cm up to 35 cm big. The inside has a white, pudding-like texture but is also a bit stringy and has big, brown, shiny seeds. Soursop tastes sweet and sour at the same time, like a combination of strawberry, banana, and lime. It’s really, really nice. Whereas, durian fruit is generally slightly oval, about a foot wide, and covered in formidable-looking spikes. Inside, it has a yellowy flesh — with a custard-like texture — and large seeds.
Interested in other interesting facts about durian click here.
Looking for another fruit article? Check out our blog post about The pomegranate fruit: from Persephone’s curse to a Christmas liqueur