Kampong Baru Durian Stalls

Kampong Baru Durian Stall

Kampong Baru Durian Stall

I spent the evening with two thoroughly pleasant  gentlemen (to discuss some aspects of my work- in case you’re wondering..),  who showed me a new BKT stall in Jalan Raja Laut (well, new to me anyway) and of course followed up by a durian stall in Kampong Baru round the corner.

This particular stall is CL’s friend’s (durian connoisseur -like CL) favorite hangout and it was down the traffic congested street that is the main commercial area of Kampong Baru. About half way down a durian stall perched on the sidewalk right on the street in front of a shop/pharmacy was spotted and we managed to pull the car in right beside the stall. Nothing like prized parking space next to one’s regular durian joint. The stall owner was a jovial Malay man who immediately welcomed us with a warm smile and broad gestures towards the three empty tables beside the stall.

kampong-baru-stall-ownerHe revealed however that his durian was not of suitable quality for our consumption tonight (despite the permanent “Special Gred” or Special Grade sign above his stall) and

Kampong Baru Durian Stall (Opposite)

Kampong Baru Durian Stall (Opposite)

recommended that CL’s friend peruse the stall across the road for more premium varieties instead. “How would this work” we wondered out loud, as the stall across the street had no tables for sit down dessert diners like us. “Bring the durians over and eat them here” the stall owner said, “I just don’t dare to sell you my durians tonight”. How’s that for honesty to your regular clients? Great PR.

Well, CL’s friend (seen in this photo making the purchases) came back with 3 durians in a plastic bag, having spent all of RM40 on the D24’s. These D24’s were small in size with big seeds, but one thing that is true is that D24’s seldom disappoint. Consistency is now part of its genes and the flesh is creamy and sweet. These though were not as aromatic as the other Highland D24’s but were certainly worthy of enjoyment too.

Here are the photos of the D24 durians that we ate, I have none of the “eating” shots as my hands were fully occupied and I’m still fussy about not wasting any good durian by smearing it on my camera.

Small D24

Small D24

I have to say that the color of the durian flesh was a richer yellow than this but my picture editing skills still require practice.*Sorry*

3 D24 Durians

3 D24 Durians

I did remark on the fact that the flesh was almost perfectly formed in all the fruits and that the seeds were also fully round (almost big enough to fit into my cupped palm) and there were only 2 or perhaps 3 seeds per segment.

3 of these D24’s filled us to the brim, a nice way to end the evening before the cockroaches came by the table to reclaim their territory and chased us away.

5 Bamboo Durians and 1 MSW for 6 People

Bamboo Durian

Bamboo Durian

It was a late Friday evening last week and we hadn’t eaten dinner yet after a pretty long and intense day.

We were ready to get a bit of R&R for the weekend. Couple that with the fact that it was SW’s last weekend in KL for almost a month, so we just had to do something special for dinner. A lengthy debate ensued (well not really) over what we ought to eat and where. In the end, we agreed that durians was the best way to go and would serve very well as dinner, followed by some cooling teas for dessert.

SW asked me if it would be ok to invite JK out with us (since we have discovered that JK is as big of a fan as we are) and indeed, he did not let us down.

“Can you guys swing by and pick me up on the way?” JK asked.

As he is literally across the road from us, we agreed that it would be no problem 🙂

Our neighbourhood Imbi stall was particularly popular tonight and we found the tables occupied when we arrived at about 9:45pm. We made do with the corner of one of the tables, sharing it with another group that came along. To our initial despair, all the Mau Sang Wangs had been booked by a client who had bothered to phone ahead so there were none for display and certainly none for sale. He offered us the “Choo Kiok” bamboo durian instead.

It wasn’t too bad, although we did complain that the first 2 fruits opened seemed “sweaty”, but the flesh was surprisingly springy and the texture did not come off as wet. The flavours sway towards a less sweet but not too bitter, and slightly fermented taste. We had the first 2 when JK’s sister and brother-in-law showed up and joined us for their dessert. SW and I had recently learned that JK’s sis and b-i-l were huge durian fans too.

Small Little Mau Sang Wang Durian

Small Little Mau Sang Wang Durian

There was no way that 2 durians were enough so we promptly ordered another 3, worried that the other arriving groups were hell-bent on taking the best selections away from us. To appease our incessant appeals and complaints (all done in a very friendly manner mind you), our durian seller squeezed out a small Mau Sang Wang for us, given that the group who had ordered hadn’t shown up yet*.

Before he opened the Mau Sang Wang though, our durian seller also presented another 2 bamboo durians for us gathering that we had done so well with the first 5 (well there were 6 of us at this stage). Thus far, the Mau Sang Wang reigns supreme in flavour and needs to be eaten after the XO, the Bamboo and the D24’s. However, I’m pretty sure that with the Durian season in Penang starting soon, there will certainly be other varieties that will put the MSW to the test.

*The group that ordered the MSW’s did finally turn up, it was a group of 5 and they demolished the MSW’s and then some! I like this photo as the MSW has a nice long stalk.

Stinky Seeds

Durian Seeds of Funny Shapes

Durian Seeds of Funny Shapes

Durian seeds are really special. After you’ve eaten away all the golden flesh, one of the satisfying moments is the peeling away of the inner membrane encasing the seed.

No seeds are identical and some of them have funny shapes and sizes. Some are round and full, while others are skinny and full of dents. This one on the extreme left reminds me on a person’s ear while those on the right remind me of pebbles on a beach.

Did you know that durian seeds can be boiled and eaten? I’ve had this from the durian’s cousin fruit known as the cempadak (a milder smelly fruit with no spikes at all) but have yet to try cooked durian seeds.

Think I might bring some home to boil next time and see if it tastes anything like a nutty potato.

Stinky Spike Pokey Pokes Fito

Testing the resistance of a durian thorn

Testing the resistance of a durian thorn

For the audience who has yet to experience the King of Fruits, one of the things you must be wondering about is exactly how sharp and stiff each durian thorn is.

I have asked my lovely assistant SW to demonstrate the pokiness and impressive amount of resistance a durian thorn offers, by sticking the tip of his finger into the thorn. He applies a decent amount of pressure, but not quite enough to move the 1 Kg fruit husk across the table.

durian-spike2

You can see how just a few seconds of pressure has already left an impression on his finger.

Holding a durian husk is dangerous work and recommended only if you have a sturdy glove or if your epidermis has already been hardened by years of work with your hands.

Many durian sellers will have a cloth glove just to pick the durian up, but some really hardcore guys just use their bare hands.

If you need to pick a durian up, make sure you grab it by its stalk (which hopefully is long enough) or use both hands to spread out the weight evenly across a bigger surface area.

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Another interesting point that my uncle (who visited 3 weeks ago and is a durian fanatic as well) told me was that eating durians and that they cause sore throats is a myth.

His thought is that the fruit itself isn’t “heaty” as what all Chinese people say it is, but it is full of carbohydrates which will cause you to put on weight if you don’t burn it off.

His hypothesis is that the spikes and thorns are very dirty -coming from plantation floors and the the dusty back of fruit trucks and unwashed baskets- and that it is this dirt that harbours a great deal of bacteria and viruses. Hence if we touch the thorns in the process of opening the fruit, then proceed to use the very same fingers to eat it, the bacteria and dirt transfers from the thorns to your fingers and then onto the flesh and into your mouth and digestive system. From there, it all depends on whether your immune system can handle this new influx of contaminants. Usually, an initial exposure will cause some of your healthy cells to be lost but soon after once your immune system kicks in the bacteria and viruses are destroyed and the infection is subdued.

So moral of this durian story is:

Get someone (durian seller) to open the durians for you and wash your hands before you eat the fruit.

Alternatively,  pack the fruit into polystyrene containers and eat it like BC does – with a fork! (but it won’t taste as good as from your fingers- personal opinion)

Did the Freeze Dried Durian Satisfy Your Craving?

Freeze Dried Durian?

Freeze Dried Durian?

A Big thank you to Dan for contributing photos to this durian lover’s reference site.

Dan tells me that he bought this at the Malaysian airport before his flight to Bali. A few questions immediately come to mind:

a) Was the durian as tasty as a crisp?

b) Why is the Malaysian airport selling Thai freeze dried durian (i.e. why not Malaysian durian chips instead…?)

c) Would I pay RM 30 for 100g of freeze dried durian? (hey, for the same amount I can get the real thing)

d) Would this satisfy an astronaut’s durian craving? (although it might be a tad inconsiderate to eat it in the confines of the space station)

Dan, please let us know!

I love how the packaging promotes it as a 4 in 1, with no cholesterol and 100% natural.

The Thais have really got their act together in food packaging- they are amazing!

Is the color of the Durian flesh important?

Does color matter?

Does color matter?

Color is important

Color is important

After commenting on the color of Durian flesh and noting the difference in intensities of the yellow and the emotions it stirs, I wondered whether I would feel the same way about the fruit if I could not see in color.

While editing the photos, I experimented with the black & white function – you can see the photo on the left.

How does the lack of color make you feel and which box of durians would you choose to start with first?

There are three main categories of people when it comes to durians:

1. Those who LOVE it.

2. Those who have a 3 seed maximum tolerance threshold.

3. Those who can’t stand the smell and absolutely HATE it.

Perhaps the people from category 1 are also those who happend to have a heightened sense of sight and smell, which triggers receptors in the brain to respond almost immediately to the beautiful yellow, an intensity of color which is almost always associated with sunshine, happiness and warmth.

P.s. Durians featured above are a mix of XO and Mau Sang Wang. Take a guess which variety is in each box. (Hint: Color is a giveaway!)