Thai Fruit of the Month Club: Durian
Personal and academic constraints have kept my blogging at bay the past couple of weeks, but I have managed to carve out some time to carve into Asia’s “King of Fruits” – the durian! The closest most Westerners of non-Asian decent have been to one of these spiny monsters is the distance between their couch and the Travel Channel playing on their televisions, but durian fruit can quite often be found in local Chinese markets or specialty shops.
Although none of the more than thirty different named durian species (nine of which are edible) are native to Thailand’s soil, the country exports more durian than any other Asian locality. Species cultivated for export have a long shelf life, and fruits found for sale outside of Asia are most likely of Thai origin. Although often banned in public spaces and famous for a pungent smell described as reminiscent of anything from vanilla pudding to human vomit, the local, fresh durian species enjoyed in Asia are quite varied in the smell, color and taste of their flesh, and are best when enjoyed within a day or two after falling from the tree, when they are their peak ripeness.
Once the flesh, which has a texture resembling custard, has been ravaged from its protective husk cocoon, it can be eaten as-is or used in a variety of both ‘raw food’ and cooked dessert recipes, including smoothies or ice cream. Pods can also be frozen for later consumption. At the workshop
I recently attended in Phuket hosted by raw foods chef Ani Phyo
, she mentioned making a durian shake. We recently attempted this concoction using the ingredients that Ani listed, all thrown into a high-speed blender and processed until smooth:
2 durian fruit pods
Meat from one Thai young coconut
2 cups coconut water
Scrapings from one vanilla bean
1 tsp. cinnamon
Handful of ice
How was it, you might ask? Not so great. Not even mediocre. To put it bluntly, the taste caused me to reminisce about our 2006 trip to Sulphur Springs Park in Soufriere, St. Lucia. We were able to manage the pulp on its own, but something about increasing the surface area of the potential stench-releasing molecules in the blender just didn’t make for a palatable chilled creamy beverage. Let’s just say the only set of pipes that stuff went down were those connected to the kitchen sink.
Here we post a short video of our first attempt to open the beast (albeit a not-quite-ripe-yet beast). We have more durian fruit ‘maturing’ outside the house which should be ready for consumption later in the week, at which time we will crank out an instructional video of slightly higher entertainment value.
Stay tuned to the blogosphere in May, when we hope to attend the World Durian Festival
in Chantaburi Province, Thailand!