What is Durian and What Does it Taste Like
Many people would probably know durian, that large, heavy, spiky, smelly and sweet fruit of Southeast Asian origin that has frequently made the headlines because of its rancid smell, which is so pungent that several public transportation systems decided to ban it. For the benefit of those who have not had the opportunity to encounter this controversial fruit. Join us as we X-ray the uniqueness of the durian, including its description, definition, taste as well as smell.
What Is Durian
Durian belongs to the species Durio and has many kinds; the recognized Durio genus are 30 in number with at least nine producing edible fruits. However, the varieties are just too numerous; we have seen more than 300 in Indonesia, and 100 in both Malaysia and Thailand. But then, the only type you get to see in the international market is the Durio zibethinus – others are limited to local markets. The fruit is native to Sumatra and Borneo.
Called the king of fruits inseveral regions, the durian is distinguished by its large size, thorn-covered rind, and very strong scent; in fact, the durian smell has led to it being banned in many hotels across Southeast Asia, as well as in the public transportation system. However, there are still people who believe the odor to be pleasantly sweet, while many others abhor it, and have compared the smell to that of turpentine, rotten onions as well as raw sewage. This is because the durian smell has the capacity to linger for days after it has been eaten.
Despite the fact that many dislike the fruit because of its odor, several durian fruit benefits exist. According to Alfred Russel Wallace – a British naturalist, the fruit is best described as nutritious custard, richly flavored with almonds. In Southeast Asian cuisines, the durian has been used to flavor an assortment of sweet and highly savory deserts. Findings on how to eat durian revealed that people eat the flesh at different stages of ripeness while they cook the seed and eat.
The Durian tree is quite large and can grow as tall as 82–164 ft and has oblong green leaves up to 3.9–7.1 inches in length. The flowers bloom in 3 to 30 clusters on the branches as well as the trunk with each of them sporting a sepal and five petals which can be four or six. The annual fruiting period can come once or twice, but the timing will vary from species to species, localities, and cultivars. Typically, Durian trees start bearing fruit from four years or five. The fruit usually hangs from a branch and the maturity period is three months post pollination; it grows up to 15cm in diameter, 30 cm in length, and weights two to 7 lb. The shape can be round or oblong sporting husk green to brown color, and its flesh can come in pale-yellow to reddish color, but it varies from species to species. The durian fruit has close resemblance an unrelated fruit called jackfruit and the flowers come with profuse nectar and are feathery and large, emitting an unpleasant, intense and indigestible scent.
The Durian Taste
There is definitely something about this malodorous fruit that makes people love it so much. In the same way, as most foods that are controversial, the durian fruit is an acquired taste. In spite of the pungent choking scent, the durian comes with a custardy flesh which has been described by many as delicious. There are some addicts who see it as creme brûlée or sugar cream, but with a bit more personality. According to Thomas Fuller – Southeast Asian correspondent with The New York Times, he relishes the depth of flavor in the durian. Fuller compared the large fruit to wine, saying that it possesses an array of jarring taste that merges as one to create what he described as a general impression of sweetness.
The description of the durian may be frightening, but the best way to give it a trial is by preparing it in a recipe rather than daring to eat it just like that. One common way that people have been known to eat the large scented fruit is by smearing it with lots of sugar and then get it wrapped up in a pancake. Some people wrap the durian in rice paper and then fry it. This enhances its combo of sweet, savory, and creamy taste. Important to note that the durian comes in hundreds of species with a range of flavors that go from chocolate liquor to peanut butter pound cake to vanilla frosting as well as onion omelets, especially the caramelized ones. With the durian fruit, we are generally exposed to a couple of categories, the dry durian and the wet durian (in texture) or the predominantly bitter or sweet-flavored durian. Whichever way you choose to go, always ask for help from the durian seller.
Durian vs. Jackfruit
Apart from the fact that both durian and jackfruit are of Asian origin, they have quite a lot in common. Their appearances are both spiky, the two can grow to be very heavy as well as large, and their colors are also similar ranging from greenish to brownish. As for their taste, both are quite sweet and come with a rather strong aroma which is the reason many passenger ships and airlines banned them on board. Both durian and jack fruit are highly valued for their high mineral and vitamin content. The two are also rich in omega-3, fiber, and omega-6 fatty acids.
However, many differences have been observed in the two large fruits, in the first place, both come from a different family, while the durian comes from mallow family AKA Malvacae, the jackfruit belongs to Morocae family with a close relationship to the mulberry and figs.
Talking about appearance, the durian is distinguished by its sharp and large spikes, though the jackfruit still has the spiky appearance, the thorns don’t come as sharp. In fact, people who harvest the durian fruit protect their hands from the thorns by wearing some hand protective gears as they can easily sustain injuries from a falling durian.
While the jackfruit contains bulbs with seeds inside, the durian comes with pods. The seeds of the jackfruit are round with close resemblance to chestnuts, and when ripe, the fleshy portion turns to yellow. On the other hand, the pods in the durian sports yellow and cream color and the edible portion has a soft texture.
- Durian Fruit: Smelly but Incredibly Nutritious – Healthline
- Durian: love it or hate it, is this the world’s most divisive fruit? – The Guardian