Since we were having a small Easter barbecue, we decided to change things up a bit for our adventurous friends. We've had durian before, but we always pick up a frozen fruit to share. Frozen durians smell kind of like watermelon jolly ranchers, and there is a window while they defrost when they really don't smell at all. When the fruit defrosts, the stinking starts -- they can be described as anything from rotting trash to rancid pumpkins with a dash of latrine. We usually purchase them a few times a year, in part to freak out friends, and in part because they are so darn tasty, despite the rancid smell. It's always funny to watch cashiers at the grocery store handle them with care, usually holding them at an arm's distance.
On a recent trip to 99 Ranch Market, we spotted fresh durians in a bin. We were curious -- we'd never had them fresh, and we'd that there was a major texture difference. When we've gotten frozen whole durians, they've always reminded us a little like the texture of defrosted frozen mango. We picked one of the smaller ones that was still naturally splitting apart (they had cut the bottom of all the fruit in the bin). On the way home, we could smell it in our trunk as we were driving, although it wasn't as wretched as in the past.
When our friends came over, we split it open for everyone to share. We noticed that the fruit was a little under-ripe; pulling the pods out reminded us of peeling an under-ripe banana. That explains why it didn't smell as much as other durians. We still passed out pods, and we still got the WTF face from everyone who tasted and smelled it.
This one was a little less sweet, but it still had the custard/mango/garlic awesome taste we craved. It had a smoother, creamier texture, while still being exceptionally firm. Most still liked it, and for the first time ever, we actually devoured a whole durian. If you have never tried one, it's worth a trip to one of your specialty Asian markets around town. If you don't want to purchase an entire fruit (most are five pounds and heaver), you can get frozen single pieces of durian for about $3.
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