Whenever durian season comes around, many of us go on a durian hunt, looking for their favourite type of durian. Durian is a popular snack in Southeast Asia. However, while we love the King of Fruits, some seem to have a different take on it as they find the fruit smells stinky like a garbage fume or rotten food and the taste is too heavy.
Every year, between May and July, hundreds of makeshift durian stalls will pop up all over the island during this period to offer all types of durians. For real durian aficionados, they will flock to Balik Pulau for a taste of the King of Fruits to enjoy the much-sought-after fruit that Penang is well known for.
The durian is one fruit that draws visitors from near and far every year and it is no wonder as its creamy, sweet and rich flesh is unlike that of any other fruit.
The fruit may make one feel heat up after eating it and is alway recommended to have plenty of water or fruits after eating eat. It is also not advisable to consume the fruit with alcohol or medications as it may cause complication. Most local will have mangosteen when they are having durian. It is believe that it can help to cool down the body. Mangosteen is also know as Queen of Fruit to the local.
There are many different “brands” of durians and each brand boasts a unique fragrance, flavour and texture.
Durians are best eaten fresh, preferably within the first few hours of it falling from the tree, for one to be able to enjoy the full robust flavours of the fruit. Freshly picked durians give that “numb” sensation when eaten.
The flavours of the same durian vary according to the length of time it dropped from the tree. If the fruit is eaten within the first two hours from dropping from the tree, it will produce the numbing sensation along with multi-level flavours while the numbing sensation will wear off once the fruit is more than two hours old.
The flesh of durians from older trees have more aroma, softer and thicker with smaller seeds.
There are many durian lovers who crave the taste of traditional wild durians, almost like a throwback to old times where there were very few hybrid durians.
Jungle durians, what some would call durian kampung, that come from matured trees and are all natural, not hybrids. These durians are all fertilized using only natural ingredients like chicken droppings.
The jungle durians do not have any specific names or brands but each tree produces a different flavour and texture of durians much like the hybrids.
Hybrid durian is resulted from cross breeding between durians. The hybrid durians are such as Ang Heh (red prawns), Musang King, Or Chi (black thorn), Hor Lor (gourd), 101, D11, Capri, Kun Poh, D14, Green Skin, D604 and Little Red.
Here some sample guide on the durian,
Ang Heh (red prawn)
As with its name, the flesh is reddish and soft and it is sweet with a slight bitter taste. It has small seeds and very thick and creamy flesh. This hybrid has been an old favourite since it was declared a champion breed back in 1989.
Hor Lor (gourd)
The fruit itself is identified by its shape, like a gourd. The flesh is creamy, very sticky and sweet but it sometimes might have a bitter taste, depending on how hard it landed when it dropped from the tree. This was another durian champion back in 1988.
Kun Poh Ang Bak
This durian is named after the late Lau Khun Poh, who first bud-crafted it, while the ang bak refers to the reddish golden colour of the flesh. This durian has a very heavy and strong aroma and its flesh is creamy with a bittersweet taste. It was a durian champion in 1991.
Green Skin Ang Bak
This durian is easy to identify as it has a bright green skin unlike the other types. It is another bittersweet durian with a thick and creamy texture.
This durian was first cultivated by the late Teh Hew Hong of Sungai Pinang in Balik Pulau and unlike the others that have reddish orange flesh, this one has a pale yellow flesh. It is sweet and the texture is sticky.
Like its name suggests, the flesh of this durian is red and the durian is usually small. The flesh is creamy but not sticky and it is not as sweet but is a balance of slightly sweet and slightly bitter.
Or Chi (black thorn)
The Black Thorn has a rosy, orange hue that can vary from pastel to flame. It is another bittersweet durian and slightly alcoholic with a thick and creamy texture. The Or Chi skin is a dull darker green. The Or Chi is also easily recognised due to its shape as it is rounder alike plump pumpkin shape and has an indent at the bottom where a black thorn can be seen sticking out. This durian can out-price even Musang King. This was another durian champion back in 2011 & 2012.
The durian fruit that is not properly ripe or good enough to eaten. These durian is going to be make into durian kuih. The preparation takes a long process, the durian will be pill out from the seed and mix it with sugar under big hot wok. It need to be consistently stir to avoid the paste to be stick to the wok or over burn. It is ready when it turn to dark brown and let it cool down before make it into a long tube. It is hard to get as not many stalls does it.
It can be rather overwhelming as you are bound to find a durian stall, or even just a vendor on a motorbike offering durians from a basket, on every street corner and along busy main roads in Penang during the Durian season. Every durian has its own uniqueness flavour and is on individual liking.
Here are a few places in George Town for you to try out or get a durian tour to the farm to enjoy it.
Stalls @ Macalister Road (12noon-8pm)
Stall @ Anson Road (12noon-6pm)