Sabah Red Wild Jungle Durian

Well, Malaysian news these days is filled with a real mix of politicking and other entertaining stories about royal scandals but food journalism usually comes pretty close to top of the list- you should know that Malaysians love food and feel quite passionately about it sometimes more than politics (but this is quite a SE Asian thing). By following this blog, you will also have realized that durians can inspire as much love and passion (or hate and disdain) as any food or indeed topic.
In the news today, a headline “Unique red durian making heads turn” caught my eye. Apparently a durian with red flesh has been impressing visitors to Sabah due its unusual color. According the the article, the Kadazandusun (pronounced KA-DA-SAN-DU-SOON) community* calls the fruit “Sukang” or “Tabelak” or “Durian Hutan” (where hutan means jungle) and this fruit grows wild in the jungles of Sabah.
I have yet to try one of these fruits, but was told about it sometime ago by an uncle of mine who had shown me pictures a friend had sent by email and told me that the orang utans in the jungle love this type of durian. I pondered out loud if it was because that was the prevailing species in the wild, but didn’t get any response because he probably didn’t know.
The article is enclosed here in its entirety so that it remains accessible for all durian hunters. More pungent, Carrot-Durians anyone?
*The Kadazan are the majority ethnic group indigenous to Sabah and Sarawak.
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Monday September 28, 2009

Unique red durian making heads turn

By RUBEN SARIO

KOTA KINABALU: A durian species is turning heads among visitors to Sabah, thanks to its uniquely reddish flesh.

Known among the Kadazandusun community as sukang or tabelak, the fruit is also called “durian hutan”, as it is mainly found growing wild in the jungles of Sabah.

Thorny abundance: A sukang or ‘durian hutan’ tree heavy with fruits during its fruiting season.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjum said he did not know anyone cultivating sukang (its scientific name is Durio gravolens) as there was generally not much enthusiasm among locals for wild durian.

Its flesh is said to be thinner and drier compared with the cultivated fruit which is of thicker and creamier texture.

The taste is about similar with other durians, although some have described it as sweetish sour.

Masidi said the sukang’s main attraction is its red-coloured flesh.

Rare colour: Once opened, the red flesh of the sukang is revealed.

“That’s the main thing that makes it stand out,” he said, adding that this type of durian also fetched a lower price than the more common fruit.

The small-sized fruits, some about the size of a sepak takraw ball, are sold for as little as RM2 to RM3 when they are in season.

Masidi, who grew up in interior Ranau where sukang are plentiful, said some people who had tasted the fruit for the first time claimed that it had a more potent “kick”.

“Maybe it’s because this particular type of durian is generally more pungent,” he added. Others who have tasted sukang describe it having a carrot-like flavour.

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