Taming the durian, this polarizing fruit

Taming durian, this polarizing fruit

Durian has an odor often described as pestilential. But it cooks very well.

Durian may be banned from airports in South Asia because of its stench. However, for others, it is synonymous with true delight. Want to get out of your comfort zone? Here's what you need to know to familiarize yourself with the spiky fruit. 

Aromas that divide 

The so-called “king of fruits” is not unanimous. As proof, it is also given the title of “smelly fruit”. 

Some have even described its smell as that of “old gym socks”, “trash” or “spoiled meat”. 

Researchers believe this smell is due to  chemical compounds called methionine gamma-lyases. These volatile sulphurous substances present in the durian are dispersed in the air once the latter is cut. 

Taming durian, this polarizing fruit

Chef Singgih Trisno, ex-owner of the Mia Tapas Indonesian restaurant, which closed its doors in 2020.

On the other hand, the taste of durian (or even its smell) is very appreciated by some people. It depends on each person's palate. Indeed, just like coriander, the appreciation of its aromas depends on your cultural background, if you grew up in Asia for example, and genetics, or in other words your olfactory receptors.

But what does it really taste like according to its fans? Sweet onions, says chef Singgih Trisno, ex-owner of Mia Tapas Indonesian restaurant, which closed in 2020. “It’s like you cut an onion and fruit on the same board and ate them. It's good,” he exclaims.

He also points out that the durian becomes sweeter once you cook it.

Open the beast

The durian season stretches over several months due to the varied climates of the countries where it grows (Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, etc.). It is therefore available all year round in Quebec.

Several Asian grocery stores sell durian flesh already cut, frozen and prepared in Montreal. Just thaw it a day before, in the fridge. Thus, it can be a good way to contain the smell of the fruit inside.

If you find (and want to buy) the whole fruit, you have to wear gloves to cut it. The outside of the fruit is pungent and the inside is very sticky. If the fruit has no visible lines, it's not ripe, Trisno points out. “The skin needs to be more brown, a little golden,” he says. Better quality durians have smaller seeds and thicker flesh,” says Trisno.

To open it, insert a knife into the thin cracks that separate the fruit lengthwise. Once opened, you can discard the seeds or roast them in the oven and eat them like nuts, as a snack. The flesh can be scooped out with a spoon.

Let's eat!

Durian has many uses in the dessert department. It is eaten very well cold: it can be ground to make syrups, puddings, ice cream or even gelato.

Some people like to puree it to make the ingredient main course of cakes or filled pastries.

Taming the durian, this polarizing fruit

Durian is excellent for dessert. Here, a mascarpone cheesecake, durian, caramelized apple brunoise, apple chip, and butter shortbread, by chef Singgih Trisno.

Its meaty texture otherwise makes it a nice vegetarian side dish alongside sticky rice, as it is served in Indonesia.

For example, in the Han nationality in China, it is eaten with chicken and jujube (or red dates). In Indonesia or Thailand, it is preferred as a sweet dessert.

“Traditionally, it is eaten with sticky rice, coconut milk and coconut. It is also accompanied by grated coconut and served very hot, says Mr. Trisno. We add the durian on top.”

A true tradition

According to Mr. Trisno, durian is an integral part of the kitchen traditional South Asian.

In addition to eating it, in Malaysia and China, it is used as a remedy in traditional medicine.

“It is a famous and highly anticipated fruit [in Asia]. It goes crazy in stores every season the fruit is available. The people here are waiting for the fruit and are ready to grab it. It’s a very special moment”, assures the cook.

Mr. Trisno says the fruit has always held a unique place in his home. “In my parents' house, after eating the durian, we kept the peels and hung them in the house, because for us the smell is so fragrant,” he says. For some people it's too potent, but for people who love the smell, it's magic.”

No, it's not a jackfruit!

Even though durian and jackfruit (jackfruit) look similar ( same green or brownish color and prickly texture), they have some differences.

“Jackfruit tastes like bittersweet lychee, is yellow and has the texture of burrata cheese,” says chef Singgih Trisno. Durian is paler; it's really cooked like a fruit, whereas jackfruit is served more like a vegetable.”

Taming the durian, this polarizing fruit

A durian.

Taming durian, this polarizing fruit

A jackfruit.

Side look, the thorns of the jackfruit are generally much smaller than those of the durian. The first weighs 10 to 60 pounds, while the durian does not exceed 5 to 7 pounds.

Besides, the two specimens do not come from the same plant family either.

Recipe: rice-dessert with mung-beans and durian

Servings: 5

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Taming durian, this polarizing fruit

Rice dessert with mung beans and durian, by chef Singgih Trisno. Suggested presentation. PHOTO: Courtesy.

Ingredients:

  • 200 grams of sticky rice
  • 800 ml of water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups mung beans (available in Asian markets)
  • 8 cups water
  • 190 grams of palm sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of white sugar
  • 2 pandan leaves (you can replace the pandan with a teaspoon of vanilla)
  • < li>1 can of coconut milk

  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 200 grams of durian flesh

Preparation:

– Cook the sticky rice, half a teaspoon of salt, and 800 ml of water over medium heat for 10 minutes. Then cook over low heat for another 15 minutes. Cover and set aside.

– Once rinsed and drained, boil the Mung beans with the eight cups of water, sugar and pandan leaves for 15 minutes.

– Add the coconut milk, salt, and pieces of durian flesh in the last five minutes of cooking, mixing gently. Beans should be tender.

– Remove from heat and let stand. Serve the mixture on the sticky rice accompanied by a slice of toasted bread and enjoy.

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