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Durian, also known as known as the ‘king of fruit’ in Southeast Asia, might be the most divisive fruit in the world. People either hate it or love it, and there are plenty more people in the former category than the latter. The people who do love durian love it with an almost religious zeal and have a cult-like fascination with the stinky, creamy, weird and spiky fruit.
Durians, like many other fruits, are grown on trees. There are 30 different Durio tree species, and at least 9 produce edible fruit. The Durian fruit, however, comes in hundreds of different varieties, with over 100 eaten in Indonesia and Malaysia, and over 300 in Thailand alone!
New cultivars – a cultivated plant type – are being grown and developed all the time, so durian diversity continues to expand.
On the off chance you are curious about the taste of durian or are one of those people who like to eat weird (by western standards) foodstuffs, we’ve put together a list of 5 of the most popular durian varieties. We’ve chosen Singapore/Malay durian thanks to Singapores its English heritage and the sheer amount of Australian traffic through the hub. So next time you’ve got a few hours to kill in Singapore, go try a Durian.
Mao Shan Wang
Also known as: Butter durian, Cat Mountain King, Rajah Kunyit
Colour: Bright yellow
From: Kelantan, Pahang and Johor
Tasting notes: Durian connoisseurs love this fruit’s bittersweet taste and sticky, creamy, buttery texture.
The different levels of flavour are truly astonishing. While the difference in bitter-sweet flavour between the flesh and seeds is expected, the deep layering of flavour within individual seeds is amazing!
That being said, because of the ridiculous demand from not only in Singapore, but China as well, Malaysia has been over-producing this durian so the quality of the fruit can vary greatly. But if you can find yourself a good one, it’s worth the risk.
Also known as: Jin Feng
Colour: Pale yellow-white
From: Pahang, Johor
Tasting notes: This durian may be small in size but it packs a punch. Its complex flavour profile belies its stature.
The texture of the flesh is slightly watery, and chewier when compared to another durian, The flavour is fruity and zesty, while still keeping that underlying note of bitterness. Despite being the most expensive varietal, the small seed size means the ratio of seed to flesh is in your favour.
Colour: Pale yellow
From: Johor, Genting, Cameron Highlands
Tasting notes: XO maybe the most bitter variety of durian. It has pale, almost white flesh and you’ll be able to find it everywhere.
The XO has a unique aftertaste, almost alcoholic in nature, and this doesn’t always develop in thick-skinned durians. So for the full XO experience, try to pick one that’s thin-skinned!
Also known as: Sultan
Colour: Pale yellow
From: Johor, Pahang, Cameron Highlands
Tasting notes: The D24 is known as a ‘neutral’ durian, as it’s not overly bitter or sweet. In fact, it’s balanced flavour profile makes it a perfect entry-level durian!
The D24’s flesh is very thick and creamy, which is a weird thing to find in a fruit, but as we said earlier, durians are not your average fruit.
Also known as: Hong Xia, Ang Hei
From: Pahang, Johor, Muar, Penang
Tasting notes: The red prawn durian (what a name for a fruit!) is one of the sweetest durians on the market. They do have a very strong scent, however, so be careful where you eat it. The quality of the red prawn can differ drastically depending on the age of the tree it’s grown on and in which region of Malaysia it’s sourced.
The Champagne region of Malaysia for red prawns is Muar. The trees in Muar are direct descendants from some of the oldest and best red prawn trees in Penang, so you know you’re getting quality.
- Don’t eat your durian in public! It’s illegal to eat durians in public spaces in large swathes of Southeast Asia, so be careful.
- Don’t drink alcohol and eat durians, as the durian has a chemical compound that inhibits the body’s ability to process alcohol.
- Mangosteen is the perfect complement to durian, and if you get a chance, eat these fruits together!
If we’ve missed your favourite durian please let us know!