Durian Mobilization 2013

10th August 2013

Dr. Leslie Tay of ieat.ishoot.ipost couldn’t have chosen a better weekend. The Muslim celebration of Hari Raya Eidulfitri coincided with Singapore’s National Day weekend and gave everyone within 2 hours flight a nice 4-day vacation. So the 10th of August 2013 was the day that was chosen for the Durian Degustation XII, which became a more ambitious project and evolved into a “Durian Mobilization” (borrowing terms from the national service here!). At 35 SGD per person, a donation towards a charitable cause and a promise to appreciate different cultivars, we couldn’t think of a better way to spend an evening.

Durian Mobilization Activity Board

Durian Mobilization Activity Board

Under the large canopy of the Telok Ayer Community Center, everyone began to take their places by 6.30pm (even though the event was due to start only at 7.30pm). Since it was a free seating event with everyone bringing their own picnic mats and other paraphernalia, it was a good idea to get there reasonably early. The event was well organized and controlled, numbers marked out assigned “spaces” where groups of 6-12 people would sit together. I was to meet up with Jessica and sit with her group. “Meet me at the back of the community center at 7” she said, “that’s where they’ll be unloading the durians”.

PRE-EVENT

We parked the car a block away and took a nice stroll via the park at the back of the community center. As we approached the car park for the community center, we saw lots of people milling around…. the durians!

Baby checking out the durians

Baby checking out the durians

All the durians were looking fresh and prickly with long stems on (a very good indication of freshness) and neatly stacked in baskets. Each basket was labelled clearly with the cultivar.

The Durians are a-waiting

The Durians are a-waiting

Was there any intention in the order of the baskets?

Eating from left to right

Eating from left to right

Well, I think if you read chinese script, the direction is always top to bottom and left to right. If you look at the photo above, I think you can deduce which durians were thought to be popular with the crowd. The small stacks are for “appreciation” while the larger stacks are for “consumption”. The higher the stack, the more to go around. I’d say the D13’s and the MSW’s win hands down. There were some tables parallel to the baskets and the supplier had left his name card out for anyone who still maintains a rolodex.

Ah Seng's Durian Contact Card

Ah Seng’s Durian Contact Card

“Come come” motioned Jessica ” we need to get you guys registered. The registration is over at the end here and we’ll be sitting at placemat number 9.”

We left our various mats and bags with Jessica’s family and the friendly group and headed over to the registration table.

Pay your money and get your tag here

Pay your money and get your tag here

Everyone came casually dressed, prepared for warm weather and a rather breezeless evening. Despite the lack of any fans, I am pleased to report that there were no mosquitoes in sight and it was quite cool due to the overcast day. The registration counter took our details and issued us wrist tags (ala disco clubs or F1).

Maybe the only participant who didn't get tagged...

Am I the only one without a tag here?

Walking past the event billboards, we noticed a table strategically placed in the middle by the stage. This was the real advertisement and menu for the event and the press. Each fruit was placed in eating sequence with a little descriptive notecard.

The table of ANTICIPATION: durians on display

The table of ANTICIPATION: durians on display

THE EVENT

Durians at dusk under the Hong Lim Telok Ayer CC Canopy

Durians at dusk under the Hong Lim Telok Ayer CC Canopy

After rounds of introductions and getting comfortable on our little picnic mat, we realized that after a while, none of us could really hear each other that well anymore. The loud pumping music in the background (yes, there was a live DJ and loudspeakers) matched the din of everyone trying to have a conversation. It was getting dark and if it had been quiet, we would have probably heard some stomachs growling. The seating area probably reached almost full capacity. In his opening speech, Dr. Leslie Tay welcomed all 300+ participants and shared the program for the evening. He mentioned that some participants had probably starved themselves all day for this durian buffet, but it was in fact not a buffet but more of a tasting session. he said that Ah Seng -the durian supplier partner he worked with- had imported 900Kg of durian for the event. So that would be approximately less than 3Kg of durian per person. (Well, durians are weighed with the husks which effectively make it heavier. One durian can weigh between 2-3 Kg, so effectively each person would be consuming one durian each :)).

Eagerly awaiting the announcement

Eagerly awaiting the announcement

Dr. Leslie organized this event with the Singapore Kindness Movement, so the Chairman got to tell everyone to be nice to one another. Everyone was nice there but I think it would have been an interesting test to put all the durians out and see what happens in a free-for-all. The durians were served to each group, to prevent fights and general chaos I suppose (note that the Genting event was also supposed to be organized like this).

Dr. Leslie Tay and the Singapore Kindness Movement Chairman

Dr. Leslie Tay and the Singapore Kindness Movement Chairman

Then Dr. Leslie introduced the star of the show, Ah Seng the durian man. Everyone was much more interested in him!

Ah Seng and his brother at the opening speech

Ah Seng and his brother at the opening speech

Once all the introductions were done, it was time to get on with the show. Dr. Leslie gave the nod and Ah Seng went on stage to tell everyone about the first durian we were about to experience…. the Black Pearl (not from the Pirates of the Caribbean, that’s a different Black Pearl). So drumroll….. dum dum dum dee dum…… and like the start of a chinese wedding dinner, out marched the volunteers carrying a basket with a fruit to be delivered to each group of durian fanatics. Now for the durian photos…..

The first 2 durians on the menu

The first 2 durians on the menu

Everyone in my group was very courteous, no snatching, no hoarding and no fingering (excuse the lingo) of the fruit. The fruit laden husks were proffered around and each person picked their piece. Next up the Ang Hae…

Here you go... this is is a nice looking ang hae durian...

Here you go… this is is a nice looking ang hae durian…

Then the XO….

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And then everything in between and then the Mao Shan Wang

Delicious Mau Shan Wang

Delicious Mau Shan Wang

What was that about the durian shell enzymes again?

What was that about the durian shell enzymes again?

Photogenic durians all of them. Check out this tiny seed.

Seeds so small you have to pick it out of your mouth

Seeds so small you have to pick it out of your mouth

IMG_0150

Mao Shan Wang Durian

The thing about eating durian slowly in courses is that it fills you up. People wonder why the mediterranean and french people are slim, that’s because it’s not just what they eat but how they eat it. A french lunch is typically taken seriously and slowly, savoring every bite. So you eat less over a longer period of time. All of us could definitely have eaten more if the durian was placed in front of us all at once in boxes (hands up those who can easily finish a box of durians from the fridge). Being served just ensures that the timing was well spaced out (I guess also to let your palate recharge) and that you eat at a slower pace. Hence eating less but feeling full by the time we got to the end. I have mixed feelings about whether there should have been quite as many durian types served. When we got to the MSW, everyone was pretty full and some already had quite enough of durian. So the appreciation was less in a way.

While all the durian lovers were chowing down and listening to the interesting narratives by Dr. Leslie (quips like “Durian husks contain enzymes so wash your hands in it after eating”; “i should invent a durian detergent”; “Is it a myth that you shouldn’t eat durian and drink” etc), there was a lot going on behind the scenes. Check it out in my next post.

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First proper Durian Feast for 2011 (Chinese New Year)

I’ve been waiting for quite a while for a proper durian feast since last year. S2 and I had friends  (L&P) visiting from Egypt 3 weeks ago (just before the protests started) and we took them on an ambitious but rainy tour of KL. After dragging them to various lookout points (in heavy rain) and subjecting them to kaya toast (plug here for Yut Kee), S2 and I thought we’d end the night with a fantastic chinese dinner of siew ju at Imbi Palace and round the corner to our usual stall. I have to tell you that the Imbi stall has been “renovated” and now has an impressive zinc roof shelter that spans twice as large as the original umbrellas did, providing more dry seating areas than before. The owner has also installed more fluorescent lights and everything was much brighter than before. We ordered 2 smallish durians which were MSWs which our friends thought smelled revolting and the taste revile. But, they were very game and actually ate a few seeds just to confirm that they neither liked the taste nor texture. S2 and I generally had a good time until it came to the bill which amounted to over RM 150 for both. We thought that this was way overcharging us and thus with a heavy heart, I must admit that we have decided to boycott that stall (we hypothesize that perhaps the stall owners wish to recoup their investment asap, even from their regulars). So, no more eating durians at Jalan Imbi for the time being.

Valentine’s Day fell on the 14th which was a Monday this year and so happened that: 1) this is still during the CNY period and 2) it was the eve of the Prophet’s birthday (national holiday here!). While most people were probably out celebrating their couply love, we hung out with my usual “medical makan kaki” comprising of 5 doctors and our crew of 4. This time we went to Unique Seafood in Section 13 (fresh as you can get, but forget conversation as it’s way too noisy) and then made our way over to Donald’s Durian in SS2, another usual haunt of ours. I rang Donald before going just to make sure that he had the good spikey stuff- durians (it’s still kind of early in the season) and that he had a table for our large group.

Donald – The man himself

No problem,” he said, “Just come over, I will get a table ready for you

Fantastic. We got there at 10.30pm, still full of fish and other swimmers, but ready for mouthwatering durian (for all you newbies, we always have room for durian).

What will you have tonight?” Donald asked casually. I asked him what he had which was good. “Well, we can start off with some D13, progress onto D101 and D24…”

AC the durian snob made a wrinkled face at the mention of the common D24. “How about Mau Sang Wang?” AC asked, she could barely contain herself and it seemed to be all she wanted.

Yes, we have that too but I would recommend that the Mau Sang Wang will be last…” Donald wandered back over to his wall of durians to start the selections.

Make sure all good one ah..” AC quipped after him. Donald assured her with a money back guarantee.

The Tasty, Creamy, Caramely D13

I have to confess that I was too busy eating and only remembered to take the photos only towards the end of the

session… but there’s enough there to share what the colors, textures and aromas were.

First up, the D13 which was richly unfamiliar but was caramelly, velvety and sweet all at once. You can see that the ripeness was perfection, I say this because the outer skin separates smoothly and cleanly, almost like a translucent wrapper from the rest of the flesh. And it is this surprising resistance when you first bit into it that eventually gives way to the soft yielding flesh below which made all of us say that overall, we rated this fruit a 4.5/5.

The durian itself was small and rather cute, it was slightly larger than the palm of my hand, the seeds were small and kind of irregularly shaped which reminded me of the MSW which is almost always like that.

Each pellicle contained about 5 small seeds wrapped in this rich yellowy orange skin. We polished this one off pretty quickly.

Next up was the D101.

Large, slender, creamy, sweet D101

This D101 was one of the larger durians Donald recommended that night. It was at least 30cm from top to bottom and had several big seeds with nice sunny yellow flesh.

This was also pleasant but the taste was a little bit more watered down than the D13 and we didn’t want to eat all of it as we were anticipating what would come next.

The seeds were larger and more meaty. We were worried that it might fill us up all the way.

Donald sent over another Durian which I hadn’t had before, or maybe it just goes by a different name. The Phoenix.

Smaller, creamy, bitter, smooth, pale Phoenix

The Phoenix was delicious. I have to say now that it was my favorite for the whole night, with D13 coming in straight behind it. This Phoenix was pale to an almost anemic looking jaundiced kid and small like the D13 comparable to the size of a canteloupe melon. The seeds were small and the flesh was a little bitter, a little sweet, but very smooth, velvety and had a melt-in-your-mouth consistency. Not watery at all, it had the right surface tension and didn’t come across fibrous or sticky on the palate. Definitely try this if you are having some durian this week.

I really enjoyed this one but I suspect that like the Tauwa (see previous posts), we just can’t get it all year round.

Stinky, Stinky Mau Sang Wang

After the pale and seemingly sun deprived Phoenix, Donald sent over the Mau Sang Wang (aka, Raja Kunyit). This Mau Sang Wang was a little larger than I would have liked, it was almost as large as the D101 and had the classic vibrant canary yellow with even spacing and full flesh overlaying small seeds.

Generally, I am a big fan of the Mau Sang Wang, but this one was not as strong in flavour as I would have liked it and maybe I was already won over by the Phoenix and D13.

Large, meaty, creamy, mild D88

As you can imagine, we were already getting pretty full by this stage (Donald sent 2 or 3 of each kind mind you) and were were starting to push each other to take the last seeds left in the fruits.

At this juncture, Donald brought out a heavy hitter (wallet too). This was the D88, a large monster to end of the evening and complete the repertoire and spectrum. It was almost too big for us to stomach but it certainly made an impressive appearance. The brown almost leathery spikes split open to reveal large golden pillow style durian seeds. Each seed was about as big as my fist (which isn’t that big, about the size of an apple).

The flesh by comparison was weak in flavor compared to all the others and it was by far the most watery and least delectable among the lot. Perhaps our tastebuds were also already so overwhelmed by all the wonderful aromas and textures, it would be hard to take them to the next stimulatory level.

I thought that the D88 would have been a good candidate for the freezer, and it was a pity I forgot to take the seeds home as they were almost perfectly ovular in shape, except that you would definitely prefer to eat Phoenix rather than a D88….

The large D88, The medium 101, small Phoenix and MSW

Here’s my last photo for this post…wonderfully skin colored smooth durian seeds.

I’ll keep you updated soon on my next durian adventure. I intend to to visit a durian farm with some new friends who say they are also huge fans of the fruit one of these weekends when we have time, that will be an authentic and fresh feast.

Durian D96: Details on another species

It is generally true in my experience that a deeper richer color and tone of the durian is an indicator of its flavor and taste personality. I blogged in a previous entry about the color of durians and its appeal to our visual cortex. Having said that, color does not always indicate a better flavor but may be used to compensate for poor flavor in order to attract the same amount of gastric interest.

Here’s a photo of the D96, how do you think the color rates on a scale of 1-10?

Depth of color: maybe a 7 or an 8

Appearance of texture: probably 7 or 8

Attractiveness of size: maybe an 8 or 9 (its not too big nor small)

Shape: Yes very shapely, maybe an 8

Flesh to fruit ratio: 5 (too much of the white bit)

Overall: a very decent 8 I’d say just looking at it.

BUT I’m sorry to tell you that tastewise the D96 fell short. It tasted more like a 4-5 disappointing the appearance of the fruit. Mediocre taste means that you could eat it and it is not intolerable but it isn’t incredibly special either, ie no, you wouldn’t order a second fruit.

If you don’t know what I mean by the description above and the comparisons of color, here’s a photo that will help with some perspective.

The D96 and the MSW Color Comparison

Durian D96 husk

The yellow-gold husk of the D96 Durian

On the left, the D96, and on the right, the incredibly reliable MSW which usually is already considered a deeper colored fruit as compared with the other species. The exterior does somewhat reflect the color inside (but I would never use this as a benchmark, merely as a singular observation) and note that the spikes are quite uniformly spikey and quite close together.

Have you had a D96? I wonder if there is great variation in the species where one D96 can be markedly different to another. If you’ve had one and it doesn’t sound like how I’ve described it, please do let me know…

Durian Plants Stinky Spikes Family

It’s about time I let you in on a little secret. Stinky Spikes No. 1 isn’t alone. That’s right. All along, I’ve been worried that SS No. 1 may not make it and in a subsequent durian session, SW and I collected more durian seeds (which fit our criteria for suitable growth) and decided to have a go at germinating them too.

Stinky Durian Seeds from the D24

Big Stinky Seeds of the D24 Durians

This time, the seeds weren’t from a Tauwa tree, but a rather delicious D24. Common enough I hear you say, yes, its true. D24 is very commonly found and quite consistent in flavor and texture, a much loved and dependable favorite of the Durian world. However, it is a hybrid and being one of the most successful ones around, we figured it to be a tenacious specie of the lot and therefore worth a try.

HOW WE CHOSE THE OPTIMAL SEEDS FOR GERMINATION AND GROWTH

From our last Tauwa experience for SS No. 1, I decided that I had learned something. Out of the 2 seeds I had brought home and treated in exactly the same fashion, only one germinated successfully while the other simply withered up, turned black and underwent necrosis in the exact same pot.

Pondering upon the what’s and the why’s led me to suspect (as I have mentioned in previous posts) that SIZE does indeed matter. The bigger and more symmetrical of the 2 seeds germinated while the other one which was flattish and sort of slightly mis-shapened didn’t develop… (see above para).

Hence, this led to the ultimate conclusion that seeds should be BIG, ROUND, FULL and FRESH!

Another important criteria was the cleaning and removal of the remaining flesh and the mild sterilization to ensure that mould and other germs don’t beat the germination process by consuming the entire seedling before it has a headstart in life.

So there you have it, the choicest round, heavy, largest seeds we had from the pack.

Durian Seed Looks like Nose

THE SEED THAT WOULD NOT GERMINATE

Just to illustrate this point further, here’s an example of a seed to avoid taking home to germinate. I thought this seed looked so peculiar, it resembled a funny looking nose with indentations on each side and of totally unbalanced proportions. A seed like this would probably not have the right supplies of food stores and wouldn’t be an optimal candidate for germination.

SECRET STASH OF STINKY SPIKIES OF THE D24 KIND

Observation: This time round, I paid more attention to the possibility that bigger seeds might yield bigger and healthier plants. I’m glad to say that this hypothesis isn’t far wrong and big seeds do certainly yield bigger plants from the very start.

Anyway, here’s a brief starter glimpse into the germination process and in the next entry, I will feature the Stinky spikes plantlings themselves.

Durian seedlings

The 3 D24 Durian Seedlings


D24 seedlings sideview

D24 seedlings germinating side view

Top view of the D24 Stinky Spikes, SS No.2, SS No. 3 and SS No. 4

Notice how large these stems are, literally splitting the seed open.

Side view of the 3 D24 Durian Seedlings

This photo provides you with some perspective of the size of the seeds and you can see how strong and firm the stems are pushing down into the cotton wool with its singular tap root probing for the water. The stems are almost as tall and long as the seed itself.

D24 Durian seeds germinating 4 in a box

4 D24 Durian seedlings germinating

Top-Side View of the 4 Durian Seedlings germinating in the box.

Notice that 3 have prominent roots and stems already, while the seedling on the top right looks healthy but fails to produce roots. This seed had developmental issues and failed to develop further although it did absorb a lot of water and always appeared to be about to germinate.

Heavenly Delicious Tauwa Durian – A Prize Find in PJ

Chinese and Malay Durian Names

Chinese and Malay Durian Names

Before we left on our short trip overseas (1 week in the UK Summertime!), SW and I went on a late night search for durian to satisfy a durian craving. This expedition started at 10pm (about the time I left work) and our first stop was to our fave stall in Imbi. Unfortunately (or perhaps not so unfortunately as you’ll see why in a short while), the Jalan Imbi stall was closed for the night. It was probably either a really quiet evening or an extraordinarily busy one as he’s usually open til pretty late.

From this failed attempt, we decided to swing out to PJ via the Federal highway (just down the road) and visit our next favorite durian stall, Greenview durians*. It must have been a fairly quiet evening as far as durians go, there was ample parking by the stall, one table occupied by 3 guys and the owner with several polystyrene packets of durians open (for airing) who were merely sitting there having a bit of a chat and a cigarette. We were warmly welcomed by the owner and the owner’s son and the son “Da Wei” (probably David in English, but it translates as “Big Tail” in Chinese) waved us over to an empty rickety bench – like the ones you sit  at barbeques but a lot less sophisticated. We took our places opposite each other and swung our heads towards the hanging durians which looked as though they were queuing up to be eaten by us.

Big Tail being a cheerful and smiley young man came over and asked us in a very polite but casual maitre’d style what we would like to have that evening. (Translation in progress from here on) “What’s your best?” We asked. “Well,” he said, “the premium is certainly the Mau Sang Wang which we a few good ones, would you like to try?”

Having journeyed such a distance for durian, we couldn’t wait a moment longer and said yes, the Mau Sang Wang please. The durian was selected, opened and the intense yellow colour was greeted by us with delight, we just couldn’t wait to sink our fingers into the luscious durian flesh. When we were about three quarters of the way through, SW – who was then in the mood for novelty and more durian– proceed to ask Big Tail what other types of durian we should have now. Big Tail did not hesitate in responding that there are groups of durian species and flavours that can be combined and others which shouldn’t be mixed. “The Mau Sang Wang, Tauwa and Ang Hae are in the same class” he said, adding ” its the strong and good afternotes in these durians which are equally powerful. Other durians if eaten after that will be much poorer in taste and will seem flat and unsatisfying.”

“Fine,” SW replied, “What is this Tauwa and can we try it?”

The Tauwa - My new found favorite

The Tauwa - My new found favorite

The Tauwa was placed in front of us with a great flourish and opened with great gusto. “It’s milky”, Big Tail said adding “and a bit bitter but definitely milky and a very special taste”. We couldn’t agree more with him, the flesh was almost iridescent and milky but the taste of it was par excellence and did not disappoint. Typically, one sees a pale coloration of the flesh and gets the feeling that the taste of the durian will be somewhat suspect and lightweight. However, the Tauwa is truly in a class of its own and distinguishes itself far from other palers. Not much else to say here apart from the fact that we devoured it in its entirety (it wasn’t terribly big) and kept a few of the seeds to grow (more on this in another entry).

Colors belie the intense flavor and aromas

Colors belie the intense flavor and aromas

Well, I think it appropriate that you see the difference in color between the Mau Sang Wang durian and the Tauwa so here it is… look at the difference in intensity? Both flavors were markedly different but equally strong. In terms of texture, both were equally smooth, creamy and finger dripping. Note that the Tauwa is a slimmer, lomger shaped durian than the Mau Sang Wang which tends to have a rounder, fuller figure.

After the amazing Tauwa and the Mau Sang Wang, SW felt they were small and succint but certainly not sufficient. “What else?… How about let’s try the D24 that’s hanging over there.”

Big Tail responded “Do you want the sunshine D24 or the normal D24?”. “Eh? What’s the difference?” We asked. “There is a difference in the taste and colour”.

Durians with a serious tan

Durians with a serious tan

“Sunshine durians are the ones which hang on the outermost of the tree and are exposed to the sunlight most of the time and the exposure to the sun turns their skin brown, like a tan”. “These sunshine durians usually have a sweetened sun-ripened flavour, quite different to the shaded durian fruits, which typically remain green all around.” I thought this was interesting and had never thought about it before. It made sense that the durians that are green must indeed be shaded by the leaves or the tree trunks itself. What’s interesting is that the durian itself is like the Michael Jackson song “Black or White” (sorry, had to pay a little tribute here) as the sunshine D24 is burned a bautiful brown on one side but completely a verdant green on the other side. Flavour wise, the durians with a tan did taste a little sweeter than their lowland cousins but it just might be due to the slight dehydration and good soil drainage that concentrates the flavours.

After devouring 4 durians, SW and I decided that we had to call it quits. We would have liked to have another Tauwa but there wasn’t any left. We also gave Big Tail the credit that you shouldn’t really eat D24s after you’ve had the premium grade durians but all the same, it is nice to have variety.

The conclusion? The ideal number of people to enjoy durians with is 3 or 4, but if you’re a connoisseur who only wants the best, then I recommend that you only share the Tauwa with 1 person (and make that a special person).

*Greenview durians is a name we have given this stall as its right by the famous Greenview Chinese restaurant in Section 17.

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.

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.