The Great Durian Quest Part 3 – Durian Fruit

Posted By Jeremy in Asia | 11 comments


Travel Photography
Durian in Singapore

Durian: the King of Fruit.  How something with such a name could have such a horrible reputation is beyond me.  My quest in South East Asia to find the fruit was difficult due to a poor growing season and being generally off-season.   In fact, during my entire three weeks in Malaysia I did not come across the fruit even once, which is surprising based off its relative popularity.

Finally Getting Durian

What I did find in Malaysia was some relatively unique food creations that incorporated Durian into its design.  Those include Durian Cream Puff (video in Part 1), Durian Ice Cream, and Durian Chendol (video in Part 2).  All things being equal, the cream puff and ice cream lived up to the reputation of being putrid and all things foul.  Durian chendol was actually surprising in that the puree of the fruit was the best part of the dish.  Keep in mind, chendol by itself is not exactly the most appetizing thing in the world.

Why is Durian so horrible? Well, the fruit is said to smell like all things foul, most commonly rotting animal.  The flesh has a rubbery, almost custard like texture, and was equated to eating a sweaty shoe and spoiled cream cheese.  It is so bad that it has made Bizarre Food’s host Andrew Zimmern gag on several occasion, and I’m trying it just for fun to see if its true!

Fresh sliced durian.  Would you dare?

As it stood at this point in the quest, the score is tipped in Durian’s favor against Jeremy’s iron clad stomach:

Durian:
Jeremy’s Stomach: 1

With Singapore being my final stop in South East Asia, it was now or never.  Luckily, a tip from my hostel led me to find the prized fruit, at a significantly increased price over Malaysia standards.  Does this translate into better taste?  Watch below to find out.

For more videos of me being absolutely terrifying while eating some interesting Durian creations, check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.  But don’t take my response for being the end all of Durian!  Get out to your local Asian grocery store and pick one up to try yourself!

Jeremy

Jeremy founded Living the Dream in 2008 to chronicle his long-term trip around Asia. Since then he has been on two long-term trips, visited 68 countries, and is just getting started. He is now on a Lifestyle Design quest to build businesses to pursue a life of travel.

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11 Comments

  1. When I first tried durian I couldn’t swallow it. Seriously, it smelled like poo to me. But, after a year of living in Chiang Mai, I can take the smell. I even think it smells a little like jackfruit. I haven’t had a courage yet to try it again, but I will. I wonder if during the last year I have become an Asian.

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  2. Hi Jeremy,
    The video doesn’t load for me – too bad, because I would have liked to see your initial impression of the fresh fruit. I run a website dedicated to traveling for durian at http://www.yearofthedurian.com. In 2012, my husband and I spent the entire year in Asia traveling through 9 different countries to get the scoop on durian and eat as many as we could. If you ever want to give durian another go, please do get in touch.

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  3. Hi Lindsay,

    I’m sorry about the video! Looks like our host recently changed their linking format and I just had to update it. Should be good to go now.

    That is pretty intense on traveling for durian. I think once was enough for me but if I change my mind I’ll let you know!

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  4. I think you summed up my feelings quite nicely. I can imagine that the lesser quality fruit has more of the bad connotations to it, but the breed that is the top that I had (Thanks to Shirley for pointing it out) was neither really good nor foul to me.

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  5. It’s funny, I don’t understand all the notoriety surrounding durian. I am Asian (but am as “American” as can be and have never been to SE Asia) and grew up eating the fruit. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I realized the Western dislike towards it. I don’t think it tastes or smells bad. I have never had durian flavored pastries or anything other than pure durian, so I can’t comment on those things (although they don’t sound very good). The fruit itself, though, is neutral to me–not something that I crave or that I have a strong dislike towards.

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  6. Thanks for that Shirley! I was really wondering why it was so expensive, and figured it was the top variety. My other hostel in Singapore that I stayed at gave me a run down on the different varieties and why they are graded the way they are.

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  7. The one you tried is the breed called Mao Shan Wang which is among the top breeds and that’s why it’s so expensive. It’s not cheap in M’sia either. If you can stand the smell, durian will gradually become your favorite,that’s what happened to me! =)

    Shirley

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  8. They see Durian in NYC…

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  9. Interesting looking fruit. I hadn’t ever heard of it before! I have heard some great remarks about some of the asian fruits though!

    Aaron

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  10. @Ruth – I was very excited to get to try Durian fresh in Asia. I can buy them here at a lot of places, but gotta try it where it is fresher. I was a bit scared I would miss it!

    @Aaron – Most of the Asian fruit is absolutely amazing. Rambutan, lychee, fresh pineapple, all tasty. Durian is highly prized by locals but pretty much all foreigners do not have a taste for it. Andrew Zimmern of “Bizzare Foods” on the Travel Channel cant even eat it, and he’s tried over a dozen times. I was told buying the high priced ones helps with the flavor, so maybe I got lucky in that respect.

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  11. Good to see you finally found the fruit!! I would have been so sad to leave Asia without trying it.

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