In the tropics, there are rainy and dry seasons. There is also the eagerly anticipated durian season. Among enthusiasts here, durian season is as much anticipated as the Christmas season is in the west.
“Eating a good durian is like tasting a good bottle of claret”, says Englishman, Nigel Pendrigh. A durian connoisseur, Nigel acquired the taste for the fruit eight years ago. He described a durian experience as being richly three-dimensional in aroma, flavour and nuances.
Not surprisingly, it was Nigel and his wife Fee who brought me to the durian plantation in Balik Pulau in Penang. The plantation boasts about a thousand durian trees which are aged between 60 and 100 years old. We went there in July 2009, right smack at the peak of the durian season. There we tasted a wide variety of durians ranging from Ooi Kneow (yellow ginger) to Ang Hae (Red Shrimp); from Peh Bak Eu (White Pork Lard) to Ling Feng Geow (named after Jackie Chan’s wife). Hor Lor, D 11 and D 24 were all being served at this decadent durian feast. These are branded durians which are prized for their taste, textures and flavours. Some of these yummy varieties have won coveted durian competitions. Mrs Lim, the wife of the plantation owner, offered us her irresistible home-made durian kuih. We were told that these were made from 30 kg of pure durian pulp and 3 kg of sugar. She especially mentioned that no flour was added in her recipe. Ooh... That explains the superb aroma oozing from these delightful mouthfuls.
Durian has inspired many to use it in sweet edibles such as dodol, ice cream, pastries and mooncakes, among others. My favourite durian dessert, durian pulut (glutinous rice steamed with coconut milk), is a rich, deadly combination that has me running many hours on the treadmill. But it is well worth it.
Durian is commonly known to possess a ‘heaty’ effect. Many claim that this effect can be countered by drinking water from the durian husks. To rid hands and breath from the odour of a durian, pour water into an empty husk; rinse and drink from it.
Love it or hate it, a durian will always stick out like no other fruit.
Details of The Lims' Durian Farm:
51, Mk. 5
11000 BALIK PULAU Penang
+60 (4) 866 8551
'Number Eleven' was a very popular durian in the 70's. It has creamy yellow flesh with a pleasant taste and a subtle smell.
The D604 was first cultivated by the late Mr. Teh Hew Hong of Sungai Pinang, Balik Pulau. The flesh is quite sweet, and has some 'body' to it as the seed is small.
This durian originates in Sungai Pinang in Balik Pulau. The flesh has a bittersweet taste to it, with a touch of sourness. The one that I documented is a bit hard.
Ang Sim (Red Heart)
Ang Sim is a durian with flesh which is quite soft and very sweet, and dark yellow in colour. It also has a nice aroma.
This durian takes the name of the late Mr Lau Khun Poh, who first budded it. Khun Poh has beautiful orangy flesh with a slightly bitter-sweet taste and a heavy aroma.
Hor Loh (Water Gourd Durian)
The flesh of the Hor Loh is very soft, dry and quite bitter.. It has a sharp smell to it. Hor Loh was first cultivated at the Brown Estate of Sungai Ara. It got its name from its appearance resembling a 'Hor Lor' pumpkin. If the durian hits the ground hard when it falls, the flesh tends to be bitter thereafter.
Ang Heh (Red Prawn Durian)
Ang Heh originates from Pondok Upeh, Balik Pulau, and has a round-shaped husk. The orange-reddish flesh is highly aromatic, very soft with a bitter-sweet taste.
Xiao Hung (Little Red Durian)
Xiao Hung, whose name means 'Little Red One,' originates in Sungai Pinang, Balik Pulau.
The flesh has a bittersweet taste to it, with a touch of sourness. The one that I tasted for this write-up is a bit hard. There are only one or two seeds per section, but the flesh is thick.
Yah Kang (Centipede Durian)
Yah Kang is one of my favourite durians. Although its flesh is whitish, the taste is superb, milky, like very sweet, melting chocolate. The name 'yah kang' means centipede, and accounts for the number of centipedes found at the foot of the tree, hence giving it the rather unusual name.
Bak Eu (Pork Fat Durian)
Bak Eu has a slightly acidic aroma. The flesh is whitish while the taste is quite bitter but nice.
D17 is dark cream flesh. The taste is slightly dry but sweet. It is a tasty durian
This durian got its unusual name because it looks like two durians joined together, one big and one small. When split open, you almost thought the two halves belong to two different durians. Coupling has whitish flesh which is slightly dry but tastes good....
Ooi Kyau (Tumeric Durian)
The name Ooi Kyau (tumeric) describes the colour of the bright yellow flesh of this durian. It is very sweet and tasty.
Chaer Phoy (Green Skin Durian)
Chaer Phoy is shaped like a small canteloupe. The skin is bright green, giving it the name which means 'green skin'. Chaer Phoy has creamy white flesh which is a bit dry, not too sweet but tasty.
Ang Jin (Red Yoke Durian)
As the name suggests, Ang Jin Durian has deep orange flesh. It is very sweet and tasty.
Lin Fong Jiau
This durian is named after Lin Fong Jiau, aka Mrs Jackie Chan. I wonder whether it is indicative of the relationship of the celebrity couple.