General Discussion

Durian 101


More from General Discussion

General Discussion

Durian 101

grocerytrekker | | Dec 22, 2006 07:36 PM

You have to be brave to experience durian.
If you do it wrong the first time, you'll probably not be back for a long time, if ever.

If you do it right, you'll eventually hope that people keep avoiding it so the price stays low. Addicts must be spreading the bad rap, since in Southeast Asia, what you hear more often is "I'd sell my parents so I can afford durian."

Here's how you do durian, unless you are a true gourmand who gets it the first time. Step by step.

1) Get mentally ready. While it IS a fruit, do not expect it to taste like fruit - expect creamy, sophisticated, cheesy sweet custard.

2) Start with a popular durian drink, sold at boba or bubble tea stores. In San Francisco, there is only one chain I like (4 stores owned by the same family in the area), and that is Sweetheart Cafe, which uses real fruit. Ask for "durian smoothie with pearls", one of their best sellers.

3) Move onto frozen durian. Little odor, just savory.

4) Time to crack a real durian - start with a Thai durian. Serve it on a plate seedless with a spoon or a fork, and don't eat it with your fingers, for God's sake.

5) If you tolerated it so far you can graduate to the ripe Penang durian. Cook something meaty -mutton curry- before you cut up the fruit.

Durian makes a good dessert paired with a sauternes, something resembling a Chateau d'Yquem. I was curious about this wine so we tried it years ago at a wonderful little restaurant Hiramatsu on Ile Saint Louis in Paris (I forget the vintage - bye bye all the francs we had). Good but overhyped.