Durian News: February 2013

Festival goers rush to the durian pyramid in Wonosalam, East Java

Last month, the big durian news story took place in an unexpected place: Canada. In February the spotlight returns to Southeast Asia, where it is prime durian season throughout most of Indonesia.  But amidst the festivals and other durian shenanigans there are deeper, hard-hitting issues at play as Thailand and Indonesia squabble over Indonesia's recent ban on Thai imported durian.

How to Identify Musang King and D24

Currently, Musang King is like black-market gold. It's the most sought after, desired and expensive of all the durian varieties, selling for more than twice the price of a more average durian.

That said, it's also the durian most likely to be faked. That's right: unscrupulous durian vendors will try to pull a fast one on the naive and sell an average durian under the name and price of the famous Musang King. Luckily, all durian varieties have slightly different shapes, colors, and spikes and you can learn to distinguish a true Musang King from a fake. Here are 5 tips to identify a true Musang King, as taught to us by the Musang Queen herself, Tina Chong. Thanks again, Tina!

Durian Fraud: 10 Tricks That May Deceive You Into Buying a Bad Fruit

"There are three people you should never trust: Used car salesmen, lawyers, and durian vendors," joked Leslie Tay of Singapore's most popular foodie blog, ieatishootipost. We were sitting at one of his preferred durian stalls while I told him about our disappointing evening at Singapore's most famous durian hotspot: Sims Avenue in the Geylang District, also known as "Durian Street."

We had been warned about the Geylang durian crooks, but I was still incredulous as I described to Mr. Tay and his friend how a vendor earnestly tried to sell us a large Thai fruit under the name and price of "Musang King," the most expensive and prized durian on the market which sells for as much as 5 times the price of a Thai durian. This is an example of Durian Fraud, when durians are sold to customers illicitly, ripping the customer off through deceit or even causing sickness due to harmful chemicals (no joke!).

Recipe: More Chocolate Durian Stuff

Apparently a week after the date I still have Valentine's Day on the brain. After my last post about how to selectively pair durian and chocolates, and my durian chocolate truffles experiment, I've been wondering about more ways to combine my two favorite aphrodisiacs.

Turns out I'm not the only one who's lain awake at night wondering what sort of chocolatey confection durian could be added to. There were so many recipes, I decided to wade through them all and select what I thought looked like the best 5 representations of the many ways durian and chocolate belong together.  The recipes vary a lot, from traditional Asian to Western fusions mainstream gourmet to raw vegan.

How To Open A Frozen Durian

When I first got home from Asia and was invited to several durian parties, I was actually shocked to see my fellow durian-loving Americans saw into a side of a durian like it was a Thanksgiving turkey.

I had forgotten that this was how I used to open a durian back in my pre-durian-obsessed days (Okay, can I really claim to have ever been not obsessed with durian?). I've never seen a durian opened this way in Asia, but I admit that this technique is actually a pretty efficient way at getting at the good stuff. Now that I'm home eating the frozen Thai stuff again, I've come full circle. Pass the knife.

Durian Chocolate Seduction and Durian Truffles Recipe

Durian is, in my opinion, the milk-chocolate of the fruit world. It's got that deep earthy, bitter roundness of flavor along with a cloying sweetness and creamy melt-in-your-mouth smoothness. It's so good, many people even say it's even better than chocolate, cheese, wine, or crack-cocaine (okay, I only know a few people who say that).

For Valentine's Day this year, I decided to explore the science of pairing durian and chocolate by making a luscious batch of raw vegan durian chocolate truffles. I've shared the recipe at the end of the post. I had a little leftover, so I made some raw durian chocolate sandwich cookies too.

Durian As Aphrodisiac: What The Research Says

As Valentine's Day approaches, men across the world are plotting how to make the women in their lives happy enough to drop their skirts and pantyhose. C'mon men, we women know what those roses and chocolates are really for. This year, consider adding durian. According to researchers in India, durian might just be the spice that makes for a romantically successful evening. Throw aside those flowers and soothing music tracks. The urban legend is real: durian is an aphrodisiac.

Recipe: Durian Steam Cake (Durian Nian Goa)

Happy Chinese New Year!

This time last year, Rob and I were sweating in the pollution-induced haze of Medan, Sumatra watching New Years fireworks crackle over the wild assortment of rusted tin roofs. We had been in Indonesia only two weeks, and in a bewilderment of culture shock we wondered with excitement and some trepidation what adventures the Year of the Dragon (and our own Year of the Durian) would bring.

Recipe: Durian Yogurt Cake

photo by shesimmer.com

This is the second cake recipe post  gearing up for the Ultimate Durian Cake post later next week, in which I'll also share some unusual durian-themed decorations and the best places to buy durian cake in case you're too lazy to make one yourself.

Durian pulp has always reminded me of yogurt - sloppy, white-yellow, creamy sweet and a little bit savory at the same time. With that said, I'm honestly not sure what the purpose could be of adding yogurt to a durian cake.

Why I'm Still in Los Angeles

No matter what allusions to hell may be made, I love L.A. I was born here, and even after we moved away I spent every summer avoiding my grandfather's math lessons by hiding in the orange tree above his study (fruit freak in development!)

Rob and I cruised into L.A. in the beginning of January. I was so excited to be visiting my grandparents (having already shared durian with Rob's on the other side of the country) AND to go durian hunting in one of the few places in the United States with a real durian fetish. Movie stars, the eccentric and wealthy, and a diverse ethnic population have created a major durian hotspot. It has a Chinatown, a Koreatown, a Filipinotown, a Thai Town and a Little Saigon all bursting with undiscovered durians. So why the hiatus on posts? Why so few durian adventures in LA?

Recipe: Durian Butter Cake

picture from graciekitchencorner

For the next week or so I'll be posting durian cake recipes, gearing up for the Ultimate Durian Cake post, in which I'll also share some unusual durian-themed decorations and the best places to buy durian cake in case you're too lazy to make one yourself.

I am not exactly an expert in cakes. I baked a lot growing up, but I've been gluten free and mostly raw for so long that whatever I knew about baking has mostly scrambled out my head through my ears. When I found this recipe I had no idea what a butter cake was or how it differs from an angel cake or a coffee cake or a bundt cake or just a plain old yellow cake.