The durian (pronounced /ˈdʊəriən/) is the fruit of trees from the genus Durio belonging to the Malvaceae, a large family which includes hibiscus, okra, cotton, mallows, and linden trees. Widely known and revered in Southeast Asia as the "King of Fruits", the fruit is distinctive for its large size, unique odour, and formidable thorn-covered husk. The fruit can grow up to 30 centimetres (12 in) long and 15 centimetres (6 in) in diameter, and typically weighs one to four kilograms (2 to 7 lb). Its shape ranges from oblong to round, the colour of its husk green to brown, and its flesh pale-yellow to red, depending on the species.
The edible flesh emits a distinctive odour, strong and penetrating even when the husk is intact. Regarded by some as fragrant, others as overpowering and offensive, the smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust. The odour has led to the fruit's banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in Southeast Asia.
"The five cells are silky-white within, and are filled with a mass of firm, cream-coloured pulp, containing about three seeds each. This pulp is the edible part, and its consistence and flavour are indescribable. A rich custard highly flavoured with almonds gives the best general idea of it, but there are occasional wafts of flavour that call to mind cream-cheese, onion-sauce, sherry-wine, and other incongruous dishes. Then there is a rich glutinous smoothness in the pulp which nothing else possesses, but which adds to its delicacy. It is neither acid nor sweet nor juicy; yet it wants neither of these qualities, for it is in itself perfect. It produces no nausea or other bad effect, and the more you eat of it the less you feel inclined to stop. In fact, to eat Durians is a new sensation worth a voyage to the East to experience. ... as producing a food of the most exquisite flavour it is unsurpassed"
All That being said… as a foodie and lover of all things Anthony Bourdain this episode: http://www.dhadm.com/content/no-reservations-anthony-bourdain-and-durian/ lead to my insane fascination with obtaining and consuming the fruit.
The fruit itself is banned in public transit and hotels in Asia, due to the smell. So as you might guess, obtaining one in the US is not an easy task. That's where having fellow curious foodie friends comes in handy! Mike and Tiffany appeared at my doorstep one cloudy Sunday afternoon with the prized stink fruit in hand.
To our surprise, the initial odor checking of the fruit rendered a sweet passion fruit smell. We thought for a while we might have been tricked with the tales of stinky produce, but then after poking at it for a while, we pulled back the spiny sharp exterior to reveal a custardy stench like no other. To me the smell was one of a sulphur bomb. Yet I had to see what all the fuss was about. So I dug in, grabbed a tablespoon sized chunk of the goo. At first the sensation was that of chewing sulphur laced aluminum foil, but once you start chewing it emits a sweet lychee-like essence with an interesting finish and aftertaste of papaya. One you get past the smell, the taste really is unique and pleasant.
I made sticky rice to accompany, and it was a fun time!
Lessons learned –
Eat Durian outside with plenty of ventilation
Invite friends, there is lots of fruit to be shared.
Durian is best served cold. It has a natural heat to it and as it heats up the smell gets stronger and stronger.
Do not place extra durian in the fridge.
If you do place extra durian in the fridge, open up 2-3 boxes of baking soda to absorb smell.
To remove durian smell from your hands, run the seeds in your palms
Don't drop the durian on your head, it could have deadly consequences.