Durians are one of those things you either love or hate in an instant. Growing up near the equator in South East Asia, durians aren’t considered strange or exotic at all.
While most ‘ang mohs’ turn up their noses in disgust and have problems swallowing the fruit, Singaporeans and their neighbors have no qualms organizing durian feasts especially when the durian season rolls around.
Durians are generally divided into two main groups, with one group being bitter while the other sweet.
There are durian breeds that are both bitter and sweet at the same time, but most people seem to like one predominant taste over the other.
Some of the best durians come from Thailand and Malaysia, and here are ten you shouldn’t miss in your lifetime:
Musang King or Mao Shan Wang
The Musang King variety is said to be the richest and best tasting durian to ever be bred. It’s rich and creamy, with a strong bittersweet taste that has many layers of taste. Due to its reputation as the ‘crème de la crème’ of durians, Musang Kings often fetch a high price in the consumer market. To ensure that you get the real thing, look at the fruit’s bottom and find the distinctive star shape.
This durian has very pale yellow flesh that is distinctively soft and almost watery in texture. It also has a strong bitter taste. The reason this durian breed is named after an alcoholic drink is because the durian’s flesh has a fermented flavor that makes it almost alcoholic.
Before the introduction of the Musang King variety, the most famous breed in the 1990s were D24 durians, known for their creamy texture with a distinctive bitter taste.
The Black Thorn variety is grown mostly in Penang where it originated. The flesh of the Black Thorn is very deep and rich yellow, and tastes very sweet and custardy. The durian got its name because the tips of the thorns on this variety tends to be darker.
Red Prawn or Udang Merah
The flesh of the Red Prawn is very different from other durians as it usually has an orange to red hue. The taste of this durian depends on the age of the tree on which it grew, with younger trees producing sweet fruit while older ones produced more bitter fruit.
D88 Durians are often known for their firm and dry flesh that isn’t very pungent. It’s one of the milder types of durian breeds with a slightly sweet taste.
Tawa or D162 Durians
With its almost white coloured flesh, this durian has a mildly bitter taste but lots of flesh and small seeds. The consistency is light and creamy, suitable for those that are looking for less sweet or strong tasting durians.
Golden Phoenix or Jin Feng
This breed has a pale white colour with a watery texture that’s sometimes mistaken as being rotten. Some people however, are drawn to this texture and the strong smell that comes with it.
Tracka or Bamboo Durian
It’s a little rare to find this breed as its not widely grown. However, its often called the Queen of the Durians, second on to the Musang King for its consistent quality and soft texture, as well as bitterness that isn’t overpowering.
Hor Lor Durians
Originating in Penang, this Durian variety attracts people who like a slightly drier consistency when it comes to Durian flesh. The flesh is also sweeter and less pungent compared to other durians.
It’s clear that one can be a durian connoisseur, just like wine or food connoisseurs around the world. The different durian varieties mentioned here are only the tips of the iceberg, as there as many other varieties to savor and many more being developed by ingenious durian breeders all over the region.
Now, is anyone feeling hungry?
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