Eating organic Malaysian durians in Macau

My aunt was at the bak kut teh stall and was planning to cross over to our favourite Imbi durian seller. The dudes who own the bak kut teh stall stopped her and told her not to buy any. Instead, the owner said that his wife is now in the durian and travel agency business, please support by having some of our durian sourced from an organic farm. 

Initially suspicious, she came round to the idea as the owner said it was free, no charge. The durians didn’t look bad and she thought they smelled okay so she agreed. When he packed eight packets for her however, she felt bad and insisted he take at least 100RM for the fruit, paying another 50RM to have them double vacuum seal packed for the flight. The double sealed packing held up well and there was absolutely no trace of durian scent whatsoever.


He didn’t want to take the cash saying that all he wanted was support for his wife’s travel agency business.. Please refer any bookings his way. 

If there’s one thing about Chinese business practices, it’s all about owing and calling in debts or favours.. This is something my aunt didn’t want to owe, hence the 100RM and a subsequent gift in return.

She brought the packets up to Macau, where we met for the weekend. Proudly, she announced that the durians were “organic”. We opened the packs with much anticipation by the deserted poolside of the five star hotel we stayed at, late at night well after dinner.

The aroma was good, sufficiently pungent and sweetish. The taste, was a different matter. The first bite in revealed a fermented almost gassy texture. We definitely didn’t fall in love at first bite. Tossing those seeds and selecting a few others, we managed to salvage about 30% which were nowhere near good but we all felt bad that these had come all the way only to go straight into the garbage. 

Truly a disappointing experience, the seeds were large and the flavour was off. I told my aunt that it would be better to pay 200RM for one single pack of singularly delightful durian experience than to have to wade through 8 packs of lousy fruit that should be relegated to the flesh for processed durian desserts.

Perhaps these trees were not of a good breed, or needed more time to mature. Without speaking to the owner, it’s anyone’s guess.

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Grab your Free Durian in KL Dec 14-15

Oh I wish I was back in KL for this! Attention all durian lovers in Malaysia!!

Free durian in Taman Tun December 11-12.

Free durian in Imbi December 14-15.

7pm onwards.

An article announcing a new durian shop opening in Bukit Bintang is giving away a free durian to every group of 3. 
Will it be a success? As long as the fruits are good, it’s guaranteed. And one palm sized durian isn’t going to satiate so everyone will buy their own. It’s more like buy two get one free 🙂 great marketing ploy.

The previous event sounds like it was off to a good start, according to this blogger

Where is the one in KL?

   
 So if you’re in KL next Monday or Tuesday check it out and let me know what you thought of the much hyped “oh chee”. If you’re late, you’ll end up with a Musang king or d24 which still isn’t bad.

Mr Eric aka Durian King, I’ll be back over Christmas please save some for me…! 

2 Kilos For 2 D24 Durians and 2 Durian Sellers

Try saying the title and tell me if you think its a tongue twister. Most of the time when bargaining with durian sellers, one has to be quite sure what they are charging for the various fruits. Is it 40 dollars per fruit or per Kilo? Does the higher Durian number (like D24) command a higher price by weight than say the D101, or do durians get more expensive as their species number increases?

The week before last (ie the last week of August), we found ourselves once again wondering what we ought to have for dinner. It was still relatively early in the evening but the rain had made it seem darker and later than usual. SW was feeling a little gloomy (pondering on work related issues) and CW had the remnants of H1N1 which had infected her entire breathing system for a fortnight before that. “Let’s go have Durians for dinner” said SW brightly, suddenly revitalized at the prospect of fulfilling a craving kept at bay by other fruits (apples, oranges, pears). “What a good idea,” said CW, “I think my cough isn’t affected by durians so let’s go get some”. Who was I to deny the gloomy and the recovering from their desires. “Sure, I said, as long as its nearby” because I didn’t want to suffer the buka puasa* traffic jam out in the suburbs.

The Durian Stall in Imbi

The Durian Stall in Imbi

We went to our favorite stall in Jalan Imbi. There, our usual durian seller and his business savvy and hardworking China-born wife were waiting for us (any customers in particular, I suppose) and immediately started pulling the stools out and wiping them down from the raindrops. I indicated to SW and CW that since it was quite damp out, I was interested in also having some Bak Kut Teh soup (across the road) and sitting sonwehere shaded and a but more dry, less exposed to the elements. The less distractions one has of one’s environment, the more appreciation goes towards the culinary delights placed in front of us. As the durian season is literally at its end, our durian sellers told us that the Mau Sang Wang and the D24 were the only two they had available and that the Mau Sang Wang was expensive as there wasn’t much in stock. Well, not much point bargaining as this was limited commodity and we had no other recourse. “OK,” said CW, “I think we’ll take one Mau Sang Wang and 2 D24’s”.

2 Durians for 2 Kilos

2 Durians for 2 Kilos

I think it was quite coincidental that each of these durians weighed about a kilogram each. Our durian seller dutifully weighed them and packed them into our usual takeaway boxes.

Every time I’ve been to the Imbi durian stall, I’ve contemplated taking photos of the durian seller and his wife but always refrained as I wasn’t sure if they would like to be “advertised” on my blog. But, to my surprise, when I pulled out my camera this time to take a few photos of our durians, the durian seller’s wife started making a few flattering comments about my camera. That’s when I took the opportunity to ask her permission if I could take a photo of them for my blog on the internet. She was so thrilled and immediately set about trying to get her pose in position with the durians, also asking her more camera-shy husband to try looking decent for the camera.

Durian Seller's Wife (Jalan Imbi)

Durian Seller's Wife (Jalan Imbi)

Durian Seller (Jalan Imbi)

Durian Seller (Jalan Imbi)

Here’s a photo of each of them separately. His wife (and executive assistant and cashier) decided to pose beside one of her precious durians and wanted me to make sure that I got the Mau Sang Wang signage into the photo (top right hand side next to her ear). She speaks proper mandarin.

The durian seller was a man in motion and it was a challenge to get a good shot of him, but he did look quite smart in his matching hat and jacket (it was a cool night and a rainy evening). He speaks almost no mandarin but cantonese. I wonder what language they communicate in, but she seems to speak to him in mandarin and he seems to understand but his language tends towards being sort of non-verbal towards her.

Brown tips of D24 husks

Brown tips of D24 husks

Our durian seller certainly did a quick job of opening all the durian husks and we were away from the stall in less than ten minutes after our decision was made.

We made our way over to the regular Bak Kut Teh stall and after copious consumption of our bak kut teh, began our copious (well it is for just 3 of us) consumption of our durian purchase.

Durians Durians Durians!

Durians Durians Durians!

As we have seen in previous photos, the D24’s always appear lighter in color and intensity and in flavor to the Mau Sang Wangs. I record it again here just to show that it is indeed still the case.

Big Stinky Seeds of the D24 Durians

Big Stinky Seeds of the D24 Durians

SW and I decided to keep the biggest seeds, and we noted that they all came from the D24. The Mau Sang Wang only yielded rather deformed looking seeds which had no reproductive (or productive) potential and did not serve our next intention (which I am sure you can guess what it is).

These seeds were the largest, heaviest and roundest seeds, we ate them as clean as we could and put them into one of the empty styrofoam boxes to take with us (which must have seemed weird to the Bak Kut Teh staff as we normally throw all the bags into the bin).

We’re really struggling with the quality of the durians in KL now at the Imbi stall, SW and I will have to check out the other vendors around town to see what their quality is like. There is a possibility that different plantations will have different durians which come into season so I am not excluding the possibility that we may be missing out on some.

The Red Prawn Durian a.k.a Ang Hae

Fight for your Durian!

Fight for your Durian!

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About 3 weeks ago, my colleagues from Hong Kong were in town for some training and in the usual and customary hospitality of a Malaysian, we had to take them to sample Bak Kut Teh and Durians. These are the two things you definitely will have trouble locating quality samples of in Hong Kong. Hong Kong, being primarily Cantonese (this is a dialect of Chinese) don’t have Bak Kut Teh, which is a dish by Hokkiens and Teo Chew dialects. Durian wise, Hong Kong’s proximity to Thailand means that most of the fruit sold in markets there are of the one Thai species. Consistent, but lacking in complexity in species.

OK, speaking of Hokkien things, Bak Kut Teh is Hokkien and Penang is predominantly Hokkien in population base. So there are two Hokkien related foods in this entry then but I won’t be delving into Bak Kut Teh as we have to stay focused on our main topic- Durians!

4 Different Durian Varieties

4 Different Durian Varieties

As there were 7 of us, its just one of those things where everyone tries to be polite and to say “You take it first…” “No, no, you take one first”. So in order to get things going, I asked everyone to put their hands in and grab a piece for this shot. Once we get going, being shy is no longer an issue.

We had 4 varieties that night, the D101, the XO, the Red Prawn and Mau Sang Wang. The durian which had exceptional flavor and was declared the overall winner of the evening was the…. Red Prawn!

The Red Prawn Durian - "Ang Hae"

The Red Prawn Durian - "Ang Hae"

The Red Prawn or “Ang Hae” in Hokkien, is a hybrid graft from Penang and so named for its characteristically orangey flesh (which I suppose could be likened to the orange pigment seen in boiled prawns). This particular durian that we had was the most spectacular of the lot that day. The seeds were tiny and the flesh had the consistency and coloration of peanut butter. Taste-wise it was bitter sweet with a slightly alcoholic, fermented kick at the end.

One of the problems with durian is that the smell of it only heightens the activity of your tastebuds to prepare your salivary glands with what they are going to have to deal with next. This Red prawn had us salivating and as there was only the precious one durian (packed into 2 boxes) all 7 of us polished it off without so much as a “please please you first” or a “would you like another”.

If you haven’t tried Ang Hae, I highly recommend it but make sure that it is very ripe for eating, some people like it firm but that seems a little raw to me, its best when the flesh needs to be teased and stretched to breaking point, with the texture of  well-kneaded dough and fresh blu-tak. The flesh should be dripping into your fingers so that you have the pleasure of licking your fingers when you’re done.

Fishball noodle soup for Lunch and Durians for Dinner

We went to one of our favorite lunch spots today, the famous Ah Koong fishball noodles and there we plotted and schemed for the evening’s outing to a durian stall. Well, this isn’t a general food blog by any means, but I can’t resist putting up a few photos of our lunch for the benefit of TW who used to lunch here with me and I’m sure misses it like hell since he’s been back in NY.

Tom Yam fish ball and Fishcake

Tom Yam fish ball and Fishcake

This little eatery, which is open 7 days a week and from lunch til early dinner, is well famous and located next to Shaw Parade in Pudu. For the benefit of our readers who aren’t familiar with these strange looking dishes, fishballs are made of fish (but not the sex gonads), the flesh of white fish are minced and rounded up into small balls which are maybe half the size of a table tennis ball and boiled to a springy consistency. What makes fishballs delectable are the following criteria:

1. Freshness & Quality of the fish used in its preparation

2. Springy Texture, should be bouncy and not heavy and certainly not starch laden either

3. Size – you definitely do not want them too big and should be able to eat it in a bite or two

The same generally applied to fishcake (as seen on the bottom right) which is the same but in a different shape format.

Accompaniments such as chillis, okra and brinjal

Accompaniments such as chillis, okra and brinjal

It is the usual thing to do when you get there to place your orders at the cook counter. Chinese meals are usually a group activity and most patrons turn up in groups of 2 or more. First you select your noodles, there are five types mainly: kway teow (a flat broad rice noodle), mee hoon (a narrow, skinny spaghetti like noodle), mee pok (a flat broad yellow noodle as pictured on the right), mee (a yellow spaghetti type noodle) and mee tai mak a.k.a loh shee fun (hmm its hard to describe this, an English literal translation is mouse-tail noodle… so use your imagination).

The noodles come with the usual set of 3 fishballs, fishcake and vegetables. You can request it with or without soup, in a tom yam broth or with curry and clams. Lots of variations to keep you coming back for more. As a side dish, we usually add on stuffed red chillis, brinjals and okra, all of which adds more nutritious flavor and variety to the meal.

Mixed Mee and Mee Hoon Soup

Mixed Mee and Mee Hoon Soup

In usual chinese fashion, the steaming hot soup bowls are delivered with chopsticks and a soup spoon (Ah Koong has upgraded the quality of their utensils recently). You may request a fork and spoon if you are unfamiliar with these eating tools.

Here’s a photo of my lunch, you can see the green condiments on the top right which consist of spring onions and coriander, a boiled fishball on the left and a fried fishball (light brown) on the lower right. The darker colored stuff next to the brown fishball is seaweed (iodine component). This is all served in a piping hot broth.

Oh yes, I forgot to say that there are some noodles that you can mix, in this photo, you can identify 2 different types of noodles – the mee (yellow spaghetti) and the mee hoon (skinny white spaghetti).

NB. I took this picture half way through my meal so some of the other accessories to the noodles have already been consumed.

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Onto the Durian chapter. We were starving by 8pm despite the huge meal and DL hadn’t eaten all day (she didn’t join for lunch) and was complaining about what we ought to have for dinner as she doesn’t eat durians (yes, she’s not a fan). ML was hungry too, although she wouldn’t admit it and we only found out when the declaration was made upon the appearance of the food. We ultimately decided to dine at Soo Kee, opposite our favorite (and most convenient) durian stall.

It seemed to be a slow evening for Friday, by 9pm, there were still plenty of durians pegged to the wooden racks, waiting for takers. The stall owner also said that it was a slow night and that it was perhaps the extremely hot weather and somewhat dire economic conditions that kept customers away. “Durian prices are like the stock market,” CL proclaimed loudly, “when there is a lot of supply, the prices go down”. True, the prices last time we ate here was RM35/Kg for the Mau Sang Wang and tonight it had dropped to RM 28/Kg. Well, we made up for the low prices by going for volume.

Rich, creamy and pungent Mau Sang Wang Durians

Rich, creamy and pungent Mau Sang Wang Durians

Ok, I won’t make you wait any longer to see the photos of the Mau Sang Wang Durians. Here they are, rich, creamy, golden yellow. Everyone probably has different preferences of how they would like to eat their durians, but I like mine with an appearance of firm skin, which gives way to touch and literally melts under your fingertips. Last night, the MSW’s were no disappointment, the flesh was full and the seeds were small. These durians were of just a nice size, not too big and not too small.

It is hard to tell exactly how many seeds there are in a long segment of the durian fruit, simply because the flesh compartments seal against each other and unless you pry them apart with your fingertips, it can often be deceiving.If you look at the photo on the left, you can see that the segments in the front of the picture (which have been touched) show the discrete fruit sacs quite clearly whereas you would have to guess how many there are in the segment further back.

The reason why I bring this up is because last night, I reached for what I thought was 2 durian seeds next to each other. I prompted CL to assist me in breaking it apart, effectively taking the other seed as her reward. But we were deceived! There was only one seed within and after a second or two of concerted effort, we realised that we still require more practice recognizing the difference between one seed and two.

Of course, since I was the one who picked up the fruit first, I would have to eat the entire thing (it was large) with her fingerprints in it and all…..

Firm skin appearance but extremely soft to touch

Firm skin appearance but extremely soft to touch

Durian has been likened by many to a soft french cheese. Given that I also enjoy stinky cheeses (often eaten with SW) it is probably no surprise that people with a keen sense of smell and taste and a high sense of appreciation of intense flavors will enjoy durian. There is a difference though. French cheeses often taste somewhat salty to me and the odours of mould do not really compare with the natural sweet-bitter aroma of fruit.

My uncle told us last weekend that durian is accompanied well by wine of any sort, and that the wine serves to enhance the flavor of the durian. SW and I have yet to attempt this, we’re thinking durian sangria…

Blackberry ruler for my durian

Blackberry ruler for my durian

It looks like a lot of durian doesn’t it? it is actually quite a substantial meal/dessert so usually it requires planning as we always want to make sure we can enjoy our sumptuous durian meals.

In case you’re wondering, why doesn’t stinky spikes give us some perspective on sizes, I’ve decided that my blackberry Bold makes a good ruler, going along the theme of fruits here…. If you haven’t got a blackberry Bold, I’m sure you can find someone who has one and get an idea of the size.

(had to wipe the blackberry down after this photo)

I forgot to mention that we ordered one other type of durian which we’ve discussed in this blog before, the Bamboo durian or “Chook Keok”. Here it is on the right, a little more bitter and flesh a little firmer than the MSW but you have to appreciate the difference that each species brings.

Bamboo Durian

Bamboo Durian

These durians are from Pahang. I recently had some durians which are from Penang, actually meant to post them up but I didn’t get round to sorting out those photos yet. I’ll put it up soon.

D88 instead of Elvis Durians

Durian D88

Durian D88

If my memory serves me right, last Friday was the first time  that I’ve tried the D88 variety of durian. This one was kind of cute and looked like it had a nice shape.

The D88 does not have a name (unlike mau sang wang, Elvis, Bamboo etc) and another foodblog from Singapore also confirms that D88 doesn’t have a funky name.

Following from the last entry, our Jalan Imbi Stall had already run out of mau sang wang and were closing up the stall when we appeared. The owner’s wife said that they specialize in selling mau sang wangs and when those run out, its pretty much time to close up until tomorrow’s shipment.

Anyway, since we had already planned for our durian night out, we promptly sat down and were served with the D88. One thing that we noticed about the D88 was that the flesh was a lot fleshier and the seeds a lot larger and rounder.

D88 Interior of Durian

D88 Interior of Durian

The fruit pits were deep and roundish and the flesh was quite creamy but had a drier and slightly more fibrous texture. It was just ripe and quite pungent, the aroma had a woody taste to it, sort of like a whisky matured in an oak barrel. The color of the durian flesh is a very light yellow like an unripe papaya but with the translucent depth of Chinese skin.

Each pit had between 2 to 3 seeds but the seeds were fairly large and you don’t get the satisfaction of sinking your teeth deep into the flesh without encountering the smooth and slippery seed surface.

We had 3 D88 in total and finished it off with 2 netbags of mangosteens to cool off the heatiness of the durians.

Jalan Imbi Durians at 9:30pm

hulu-langat-moon As it was a holiday on Monday, Sunday night felt a bit like Saturday. After a bright clear day of blue skies and sunshine, SW was fed up of studying, called me up and asked me to come home from wherever I was. JK was also free and up for joining us to do something out of the ordinary.

We had a number of options; walk around a part of town we’ve not explored before (but I felt it was really too hot for that), take a drive to Malacca (too far away for me) or go back to where we visited about 2 years ago, the dramatic lookout point at Hulu Langat.

I chose to go with option 3. JK said that he hadn’t been down Jalan Ampang for years and was most surprised at all the development that had taken place. We found that the lookout point had majorly developed into a popular hangout for the chinese-speaking fashionable Gucci shoes and LV handbag crowd, all touting fancy long lensed nikon or canon cameras with at least 2 children and husband in tow.

We ordered a pizza and falafel to share and sat back to enjoy the marvellous sunset over the Klang Valley. After we settled the bill but before we headed for dessert, SW and JK headed up to the lookout tower for some photos while I (exhausted from my exercise in the morning and early afternoon) waited patiently below. I was remarking to myself on the noise and light pollution caused by the lookout’s 2 busy eateries when suddenly, the lights blacked out and we were plunged into pleasant darkness, illuminated only by the moon. I am rather surprised that my tiny handheld nikon (not remotely comparable with the SLR monsters I mentioned earlier) was able to capture this remarkably serene and beautiful night scene.

JK and SW eventually joined me and we headed back down to our carriage, we already knew our next destination.

ARRIVAL AT JALAN IMBI

We found our durian stall owners relaxing in the usual corner, the sprightly mandarin chinese speaking wife sprung into action when we drew close. A table neatly prepared with just-wiped stools, equipped with tissue box and individually sealed water cups and straws were at the ready. SW and I never knew that JK was a bit of a durian connoisseur and had no qualms ordering our dessert in mandarin. As we weren’t going to have a feast, we felt that we ought to just shoot straight for the mau san wang again.

Now, if you’ve not had durians before, you might think that one species should reflect a consistency in taste and texture. This is not true. One mau san wang may and will taste very different to the next one, depending on the tree, its moisture, age etc. The ones SW and I like best are the ones with a taut superficial skin but a full bodied creamy interior which is almost like yoghurt that you can lick off your fingers.

Texture of durian

Texture of durian

Some people may involve their entire hands in the consumption of one durian seed which I personally find rather untidy. I much prefer using just 3 fingers which confines the sticky and stinky fingers and makes it easier for washing when I’m done.

Part of the experience of consuming durian is the sensation of the softness of the fruit against your skin. Its almost like a moisturizer on your hands but not too oily. I suppose we could compare the texture of it to a very ripe avocado with a similar colour.

While we were enjoying the privacy of our small durian party, a very large tour group from China suddenly appeared and practically mobbed the stall. Loud cries of “liu lian aaaahhh” and “zhe ge shi she me dong xi” filled the air and we were peering at the numerous backsides of chinese durian eaters who had to stand as there weren’t sufficient places to sit.

They reached over to grab tissue paper from our table and did not hesitate to toss their eaten seeds into our basket, but most of the ladies were more fixated on the mangosteens- which sold out very quickly.

As soon as they appeared, they also cleared out with surprising speed once their tour bus appeared, leaving us to eat our next mau san wang in peace.

We didn’t know that JK was a durian fan and both SW and I are delighted to have found another durian kaki.  🙂