We were strolling through the Tagum City Durian Festival in the Philippines when Rob stopped in his tracks. “Is that Red Prawn?” he gasped
in disbelief and excitement. He’d spotted his favorite durian from yards away, the first Malaysian variety we’d seen in the Philippines. Originally from Penang, Red Prawn (D175) is the most expensive durian variety we know of, even beating out the mighty Musang King. We didn’t expect to find it in the Philippines, but there it was, comically listed as “Red Frown” and selling for an unprecedented $1.36 per kilo. Rob ate affordable Red Prawn the rest of the week, and I felt grateful that we’d known how to spot it. Here’s how we can differentiate a Red Prawn from other durians and are never tricked by those sometimes shady durian vendors.
Red Prawn usually grows in an elongated shape like an American football, as opposed to D24 which is very round. The bottom of Red Prawn usually has an extended, pointy tip which is made of just shell, meaning you have to fight through a few inches of cement-like durian husk to get at the yumminess (see Picture #3).
Red Prawn is usually a dusky brown, as if it’s
been sprayed with a pearly dust. It makes it a very pretty durian that stands
out from others, taking on a slight sheen that even borders on
tinges of lavender. Very occasionally it can have a greenish tint, but this happens only when grown outside of Penang. The Red Prawns we saw in the Philippines were the greenest we’ve ever seen. It must have something to do with climactic differences or maybe different nutrient ratios in the soil.
Short and widely spaced, the spikes of a Red Prawn are so small that from a distance the skin of the durian can look nearly smooth or bumpy. Watch out, those nubby spikes are still sharp! Usually there will be a lighter colored, smooth ring around the base of each spike, with room to easily draw a finger between the thorns. That’s not possible on the tightly clustered spikes of a D24!
Thickness of the Shell
Red Prawn durians are really hard to open. You practically need a chainsaw for these suckers, but it’s all part of the fun. Everything tastes better when you have to work for it, and that might be part of Red Prawn’s secret. Check out how wide the core of the Red Prawn is compared to the D24. D24 has a narrower, weaker core (can you see the prominent seam?) and an overall thinner shell. This means that it’s much easier to open a D24, but for a lesser reward.
The durian is called “Red Prawn,” because of the slightly pinkish color and curving shape of the flesh inside the shell, which reminded the sea food loving people of Penang of the large shrimp red prawn. It’s no coincidence that the red prawns of the sea are just as an expensive delicacy as the Red Prawn of the trees.
D24 is quite good in it’s own right, but that dull yellow is somehow just not as inspiring as the subtle creams and salmon shadows of a Red Prawn. There’s just something about that silky coloration, ranging from a delicate pale pink to nearly orange, that makes one’s stomach clench with anticipation.
The Red Prawn Edition of Durian Porn