Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Durian Day!

I like to eat local, in season fruit as much as possible, but the offerings in my climate this time of year leave lots to be desired. I'm sorry, Colorado, but your apples and pears (which aren't even grown here, and have been supplemented with so many Ecuadorian bananas) have really begun to bore me. In times like this, I need a quick fix of tropical fruit before returning to the stupor of Winter produce.

Enter, the durian.

There's no neutrality when it comes to this fruit; everyone who's heard of the spiky monster either loves or hates it. I belong to the former category, and am undaunted by stories of its bearers being banned from public transport, or insistence that its odor is miraculously disgusting. And it is. To me, durian smells like garlic and feet, but sweet. That aside, it's really delicious, with a custardy texture and rich flavor. It's purported to have aphrodesiac qualities, but I wouldn't know; my Mr. won't come near after I've eaten the stuff. In Malaysia, there are all-you-can-eat durian stalls, where for $5 US, you can indulge in enough of the fruit to make you reek for days. I'm saving up for a plane ticket.

To cure my durian craving, I visited a larger Asian market in Denver. I've never seen fresh durian this far inland, but whole frozen durian is usually available, and the quality isn't compromised much. In addition to 2 durians, I found young Thai coconuts for about $1 each. I bought 13 of them.

I immediately cracked open and drank a young coconut, then cut its flesh into thin noodles. Tossed with fresh tomatoes, cilantro, basil, and lime juice, it was just as refreshing as the coconut water.

And some other treats. Clockwise from bottom: miniature bananas, cherimoya, winter melon, young coconut, papaya, mango, more cherimoya, and longan.

The bananas were so dense and creamy, eating them felt like biting into a stick of butter. Too heavy for everyday tastes, but really nice in smoothies.

Cherimoya is my very favorite fruit, with a flavor akin to lemon custard and the appearance of lizard skin. I remember eating it for the first time when I was 10, and being stunned--with my diet of hot pockets and ice cream--that fruit could be so delicious. They're just lovely.

Here's jackfruit, which I found fresh and trimmed. The mildly sweet fruit has a stringy texture, and can be spiced and made into a delicious taco filling.

Back to the durian. Cut open, they look like this. There are large sections of creamy fruit within the shell, each of which has a seed.

After some yoga, it was all I wanted. But this one didn't know what to make of it at first.

Then she dug into it, and we were durian maniacs!

And later, mounds of durian, looking (and tasting) very much like ice cream.

Good fruit always cheers me up, and was the perfect brightener for this dreary day. Off to thaw my second durian for tomorrow...


nora said...

I still can't decide if I want to try it!

Vegan Valerie said...

That is all SO interesting!

Now this revelation really shows the geek in me, but the first time I ever heard of a durian was when I played "Super Mario Sunshine" on my Nintendo Gamecube, a few years ago! Because of that, I understand what a durian looks like: tan and spiky.

But as for the taste and smell, I still have yet to experience that. If I like garlic, (which I do, very much) do you think I would also like durians? One of these days I'm going to find one and try it!

But first I've got to find a good Asian market. I bet I could get a lot of things much more cheaply there than at the typical supermarket.

Thanks for such an inspiring post! I love it!


VivaciousVegan said...

Oh my! I have wanted to try durian, but my husband would not let me buy one on Saturday when we went to a Thai Market. I guess I am more adventurous than my husband for once. I watched two tv shows with durian, Anthony Bourdain adores it, Andrew Zimmern hates it with a passion and acted like he was going to vomit. Since I like garlic and feet smell does not bother me, I am up for it...LOL
What can you do with it? I heard it makes wicked ice cream!!!

RGveggie said...

You've definitely piqued my curiosity about the durian, but if I try one I'm a little worried about being smelly afterward! I hope the smell doesn't linger long!

Joy said...

Try it! Despite the onion-mango-garbage smell, the flavor is delicious. Mine barely smelled at all (for some reason, the smell was more intense where the fruit surrounded the seed...?), and tasted amazing.

Vivacious, I have to side with Bourdain on this one. (And he's wonderful, besides. Have you read Kitchen Confidential?) On durian ice cream: really, it's already so creamy--I think the fat content is something like 18%--adding more creaminess would be superfluous. Definitely get a taste for it fresh first!

RG, don't worry, the smell doesn't actually stick to you--it somehow remains wholly contained in the durian. And I guess I'm unfazed by the possibility of stinking; I'm eating another whole one tomorrow!

jill said...

where oh where do you find jackfruit in the denver area?!?

Joy said...

Pacific Ocean International Marketplace, at Alameda and Tejon. It's on sale right now for $1.18/pound.

livingslowly said...

Wow, very interesting! I love kimchi and that sure does stink so maybe I would like the durian. Next time we go to the asian market I'll be adventurous and by some unusual fruit.

Seattle DUI attorney said...

Oh my goodness. I'm surprise your little girl is eating it! Good for her.

I'm vietnamese and I refuse to eat it raw even!

Maija Haavisto said...

I love cherimoya as well! It's just very difficult to find here. Asian stores don't stock it and you can find it in normal supermarkets 1-2 times a year if you're lucky. At one point I didn't see it in Finland for over a decade...

I believe how durian smells and tastes to people is probably dependent on genes (though I guess many flavour preferences are). I've never had it, though I've been eyeing it in Asian stores.

I also didn't know jackfruit could be used for savoury dishes (well, obviously all fruit can, but still).

Melor Rahman said...

Where did you get the durian? I visit HMart in Denver few time but no luck with durian :(. I live in Denver too. Missed durian so much! Btw, i'm from Malaysia.