We are now in the durian season in Thailand. There are 30 recognised species of the “king of fruits” which belongs to the Malvaceae family.
Thanks to its distinctive smell, durian is very much a love it or loathe it type of fruit. Fruits can grow up to 30 cm long and 15 cm wide and the skin is covered in thick husks, which lead to some commenting it resembles a hedgehog!
The fruit is native to Southeast Asia and has a limited season and an extremely short shelf life, hence the excitement of durian lovers around this time of year. Thanks to its popularity and limited availability, it is also fairly expensive for a fruit.
As mentioned already, it is the odour of the fruit that is the main reason it is so well known, with some finding the fragrance sweet and pleasant where as others compare it to turpentine or raw sewage. Thanks to the severe and extreme dislike by many, durian is actually banned in many public places around Bangkok, including the BTS and most major hotel lobbies/rooms.
The flesh of the fruit itself is pale and soft – many describe it as having a taste similar to custard. In addition to the fruit, durian chips, dried durian, ice cream, moon cakes and durian wine are also popular. Perhaps controversially to the mango lovers, when in season durian and sticky rice gives one of Thailand’s most loved desserts a pretty good run for its money!
There are different varieties of durian – our overall favourite is the creamy one, a durian susu, (this is the one that tastes like custard) but we are also rather partial to the sweet version too – it tastes just like a mouthful of crème brulee.
Durian is rich in vitamins and minerals and despite the sweetness of the flesh, it is free from saturated fats and cholesterol. It is also rich in dietary fiber, which makes it a good bulk laxative. However do be careful, with an average 1 kg sized durian having close to 1,350 calories, eating one durian can rack up as much as 68% per cent of the daily 2,000 calories recommended for an average adult! For a fruit it sure isn’t diet friendly.
It seems the love, or at least the reputation of durian is starting to leave Southeast Asia – for the first time this year British consumers will be able to purchase it in supermarkets.
There are probably more website articles, blogs posts (to which we have now added to) and you tube videos devoted to the durian than for anything other fruit – if you have a few spare minutes do search on you tube – the videos of those smelling/trying durian for the very first time are a fairly amusing way to waste ten minutes – you can thank us later!
Are you a durian lover or hater? Have you tried the fruit before?