Weird Ingredient Wednesday: Durian Stinks Like Hell but Tastes Heavenly

Durian Stinks Like Hell but Tastes Heavenly

I've known eaters who will fearlessly bite into the hottest peppers, but even they have quailed before durian, the fruit that hails from Southeast Asia and whose smell has been compared to garbage, rotting flesh, and the bathroom post-use. However, this hefty globe with its spiny, prickly outer covering isn't called "the king of fruits" for nothing.

Image by Mohafiz M.H. Photography/Flickr

According to its many fans, its stench does not correlate to its taste, which has been described in extremely flattering terms. Monica Tan of The Guardian writes, "The taste is mildly sweet, almondy, and very creamy, not unlike a rich cheesecake. It has a whiff of alcohol about it, which explains why eating it gives you this hot feeling inside—like you've downed a shot of vodka."

The smell of durian is so strong that it's been banned in hotels and public transportation in many places in Southeast Asia, including Singapore, one of its native lands. However, for a certain type of macho eater, this just lends the fruit more of a mystique.

A "no durian" sign in a Singapore MRT station. Image by Andrea Schaffer/Flickr

The durian, clearly, is not meant for amateurs, the unadventurous, or supertasters who experience flavors much more intensely than your average eater.

Personally, I found that durian's smelly reputation was a lot more fearsome than its actual taste. It's a little bit like jumping into cold water: the anticipation is the worst part. Once you actually bite into the fruit, it's quite enjoyable: sweet, rich, and smooth. It helps to remind yourself that many of the world's most delicious things (ripe cheeses like brie or feta, black or white truffles, kim chi, etc.) may not smell pretty at first, but they sing on the tongue.

Image by Steel Wool/Flickr

There are many durian recipes out there, although most durian fans seem to prize eating the fruit itself. It's not easy to get outside of its native environs, but if you live in an area that has a lot of Asian markets, you can usually find the fruit in the frozen section. Occasionally, some Asian groceries will carry them fresh, if you're lucky enough to get there at the right time.

(1) Durian egg tarts, (2) Durian pastries, (3) Durian tarts, (4) Iced durian, (5) Durian mini cupcake. Images by Avlxyz/Flickr (1, 2), wEnDaLicious/Flickr, Televiseus/Flickr, Gabrielsai/Flickr

If you want to give durian a try and don't have any local sources, not to worry: you can buy dried durian, durian candy, durian chips, or even a durian seed so you can grow your own tree.

Weird Ingredient Wednesday Continues...

For more interesting foods, check out our Weird Ingredient Wednesday section to learn about citrus caviar, the wonders of black garlic, and why Lapsang Souchong tea is the ultimate brining/marinade ingredient.

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Cover image via Zolmuhd/Flickr


Wow! I had never heard of it until now!

Grew up with this in Singapore. Love it! Rather difficult to find in the US though.

I finally ate it for the first time last week. Much, much better than I thought it was going to be.

easy to find in Chinese shops in the summer

Durian is definitely one of my favorite fruit!! It really taste nice!!

If you have high blood pressure, do not eat this. It elevates blood pressure dangerously.

I love durians! When I was studying in California, lucky for me, I found frozen durians at 99 Ranch. Several ways to consume it:

1) Eat with bread
2) Eat with sticky rice and sugar (or salt)
3) Make pengat durian

Let me know which one do you like the most! :)

99 Ranch is a great source for LA residents who want durian. Thanks for reminding me!

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