No fruit in the world divides people like a durian. It smells like hell and tastes like heaven… and only true fans or the bravest food lovers can get past its pungent odour. Yet it is so revered in Malaysia, it’s been declared “the king of fruits”!
This country is home to more than 200 registered species of durian, though most locals who have grown up eating the fruit may know five or six by name. The best-known and most premium of these football-shaped, spiky-skinned delights is the Musang King, praised for its bittersweet flavour and rich, creamy taste.
Durian flavour profiles range from savoury to sticky sweet; there are bitter durians and some with an alcohol-like fermented tingle. The pulp arils, which cloak large seeds, can be snowy white, golden yellow or flaming orange, depending on the variety, with a texture like custard. Some think this exotic fruit’s taste is reminiscent of almond cream, or sweet onions – it depends on how ripe it is. As for durian’s undeniable odour, it’s somewhere between mouldy cheese, smelly socks, vomit and rotten egg gas!
If these descriptions intrigue you, seek out other cultivated varieties beyond the comfort zone of Musang King. There’s Black Thorn, D24, Red Prawn, XO, Tekka, Golden Phoenix, D101 and many more, plus the wild kampung durians growing in most villages. Most of Malaysia’s durians are farmed in Penang, Johor and Pahang; you’ll find them everywhere from roadside stalls to upmarket shops.
To buy durian, ask to have it opened – peeling a thorny durian is a daunting task for a novice. As an entry-level experience, try durian ice cream or sweet cakes before braving the fresh fruit.
Durian’s international reputation is on the rise, with visitors to Malaysia seeking out durian food experiences and plantation tours during the season, which can stretch from May to September. The renowned DKing restaurant in Selangor is the perfect place for an introduction. You could become a durian devotee!
Shop name: DKing
Jalan SS 2/64, SS 2, 47300 Petaling Jaya
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