For once, durian was actually not on my mind when I popped by the Asian Grocer this afternoon. I was on a seaweed mission. But when I found Malaysian Musang King durian in Australia, it was a no-brainer. Forget seaweed – durian was on the menu!
There were only four smallish durians, about 1 kg each, and two had already split wide open on the bottom. I grabbed the non-splitting ones and hustled them to the register, trying to hide them from the group of Asian tourists who had just wandered in.
At $7 a kilo, Malaysian Musang King cost about half the price of a fresh, Thai-style durian grown here in Australia. I didn’t want to increase the competition.
Rob was reading a book on the front porch when I got home. He spotted the spikes poking through the plastic bag right away. “Whatcha got there?” he asked, setting down his book.
I hauled out my prize with pride. “Musang King!”
“It looks funny,” Rob said. “Are you sure it’s a Musang King?”
I looked doubtfully at the two little durians sitting on the table. They didn’t have the characteristic wide star on the bottom that I associate with Musang King. I pointed at the tag, which had been checked “Musang King.”
“It says so right here,” I said. But I was already wondering….. was this really a Musang King?
We had to wait a few hours for the durian to thaw enough to crack open. This is what it looked like:
I KNOW, right?
Had someone at the durian packing plant spilled bleach on the durian? Was it just really under ripe? We stared at our albino surprise for a minute before I gave it a poke. It was soft. I took a bite. It was good.
I hadn’t tasted anything like it in almost a year. It was like cocoa powder mixed in tahini – thick, sticky, rich and slightly bitter. Delightful. We gobbled it down, mourning our silly idea to keep the other durian in the freezer for later.
But what was with the color? Where was that glowing gold? The strangest thing was that in between each pale seed pod the flesh was mottled with yellow. Was this a Musang King gone wrong? Was it even a Musang King, or had someone made a whoopsie when they labeled it at the factory?
|Do you see the hints of yellow?
Beginning to doubt that we’d really found a Musang King, I went back to my own guide for identifying Musang King just to be sure what we were dealing with. With that coloration and the lacking star on the bottom, was it possible that we’d picked up a tasty D24 instead?
The first thing I looked at was the base of the stem. See how there is a flat, raised ring around the base, with only teeny-tiny thorns close to it? A flat raised ring over tapering thorny body is classic for Musang King – but then, there are still thorns sticking up over the ring, which is more a characteristic of a D24.
Then I reassessed the overall shape, including the stem length. It looked good for Musang King. The stem is pretty darn long, while D24 usually has a short stem. The body tapers away evenly from the base of the stem, like the top of a bald mountain – another good sign. And the spikes are wide and fairly blocky, all good signs that it’s an albino Musang King.
There was one last thing to re-explore. And that’s the bottom. Where is the classic wide band of color running up each seam, making a very visible five pointed star? Even the freaking label featured a picture of that starred bottom. Instead, the bottom looked 100% like D24.
|Starting to split
So the jury is out, folks. I’m fairly convinced we picked up a D24 rather than a Musang King. But then, I could be wrong. The stem is long, the stem base is right, and the shape is everything a Musang King should be. But if it really is a Musang King, then that coloration is just bizarre and slightly worrying.
I’d love to hear your input on what you think this durian is. Just leave a comment in the box below with your vote for or against Musang King.
We have one more mystery durian, and I’ll let you know what it looks like on the inside.
Whatever it was, it was tasty.