There are very few things in this world which will provoke a love it or truly dislike it response that the durian fruit normally does. It is dubbed the King of the fruits, but whether it is because of the thorns surrounding it like a glorious crown, or the powerful flavours and smell (some have described as pungent) it possesses, either way, it should provoke a strong response.People do go to extreme extents to get the best culinary experience, such as visiting a Michelin star restaurant, buying the best cut of Wagyu beef, or seeking out the great vintage wines from French vineyards with great Terroire. Hence it should not be unexpected that there are durians and there are truly special breeds of durian, if you know where to look. We are fortunate that there is a durian plantation in Gurun Kedah, Malaysia close to where we stay, which produces truly great quality durians. Hence each time we return to visit relatives, it is a compulsory trip to sample some of these truly delicious durians. As you can tell, both my wife and I love to eat the durian. Sadly, our daughters belong to the opposite camp.
Durian trees in the plantation
So what is so special about this durian plantation? Speaking to the proprietor, he has 2000 durian trees in his plantation of many different strains – and some of these are truly special. He speaks of his customers who travel from far and wide, in order to partake of these special durians (some from Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and China – he can also add UK to this list as well now). He maintains an organic and sustainable approach to the care of his plants, as he disagrees with the use of pesticides as he knows that this adversely affects the fruit that is produced.
Small durian tree
I did learn somethings from Mr Eric Teoh, the proprietor during this trip. The durian tree is said to flower in March, and approximately 90-100 days later, the fruits will have grown enough and ripened sufficiently to fall off the tree; once the fruit has fallen off the tree, it is ripe and ready for eating. Due to the timing, I am unlikely to be seeing any of these flowers any time soon. Eric added that the best time to visit to sample the durian will be in June and July. We arrived towards the end of the durian season during UK school holidays, but perhaps the best durians have waited until now to fall off, as we did enjoy some durians which can be categorised as a culinary delight.
Durian with its crowning glory of thorns
Eric is always very welcoming when we visit his plantation. We would sit down and talk, while he opens up the first fruit. From then on, the enjoyment of the durian fruit can truly start, right at the place where it was grown. I can only remain impressed when I see him open the durian with such skill, as befits his experience in such matters.
Durian being skillfully opened by Eric for eating at the plantation
Intense colour and flavours in the meat of the fruit
According to Eric, there is an order for eating durians. The appetiser or starter durian should be a reasonably high quality and one to whet your appetite for the coming durians, whilst the best should always be saved for the last, with each durian in between building up to the ultimate climax.
Having pondered about my personal preferences for a while during this trip, I’ve decided that I particularly like ones which are soft, creamy and bitter. I have not found any denominator which can help me identify such characteristics, as some happened to be pale yellow in colour while others had a tinge of orange colour to the meat, like the ones below. So it all boils down to eating it to find out what it tastes like.
The special durian with a slightly orange tinged flesh
A special durian with a smooth creamy texture and bitter taste
Now I have to say that not everyone will like eating durians, but there are some who will love eating this. If so, then it is certainly worth seeking out such great durian plantations for the truly exceptional specimens.
Now one of the cameras I’ve brought for this trip was the Olympus E-PL5 to shoot in infrared. I am hoping to capture more images of Malaysia and Singapore in infrared in the remainder of the holiday. I have not done a channel swap, but have used the grass as white balance reference.
Durian trees and a durian visible in the corner in infrared – 650nm filter
Durian tree in the plantation in infrared – 650nm filter
Durian tree plantation in infrared – 650nm filter
There will be more to come – stay tuned.