Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Chef Jules, King of Fruits and Luca

Hello Friends;
Before you all get the wrong idea, Chef Jules is not the king of fruits, what I am referring to is the Durian. This amazing fruit grows in the South East Asia region and is native to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and also Brunei. It has a formidable spiky outer casing and must be one of the few fruits that can be fatal, i.e, it's not recommended to have a nap under one of these trees. When you handle a Durian, which vary between 1 and 4 kilos, you begin to understand the fact that every year there are fatalities from falling fruit. I purchased the Durian from my local Asian fruiterer in Newmarket, Auckland, New Zealand. At approximately NZ $15 per kg, it's not a particularly cheap fruit. Some interesting facts that set this fruit apart are as follows, 65% water content (very low for a fruit), 22% carbohydrates, 7% proteins, high in fat and many different minerals, vitamins, notably the B- complex group.

There is one aspect of this fruit that can not be denied and that is, it's unusual smell. I regularly frequent the before mentioned fruiterer and as I entered one day, my senses were alerted. Observing other visitors to the shop it was interesting to see the varied reactions at coming across the Durian, from shrieks of delight to shrieks of revulsion. This polarization pricked my curiosity so I bought one. Little did I know my life would never be the same again. Placing the precious cargo in my vehicle and going about my business, in and out of the car, I was never in any doubt of its presence, rather like a silent baby with a soiled nappy on a hot day. Every time I re-entered the car I was assaulted by the odour and my brain was trying to process the information my nose was delivering. What was that smell ?, pleasant yet strangely disturbing, familiar yet foreign, I struggled to describe its aroma. I finally returned home and placed it on the kitchen bench. It usually takes me a while to get myself together in the morning, but not anymore with Miss Durian in the house, it was like having a manic house keeper cleaning all surfaces with my well used gym socks. On returning to the house from being away all day, BANG, there it was again ! I describe the smell as being sweet, over ripe paw paw with a hint of cheese. It comes as no surprise to learn that in Thailand, Durian is banned from many public places including hotels and buses, due to the pungent smell. Cutting 10mm into the spiky outer and pulling it apart reveals 5 light yellow cambers or pods, which should be carefully lifted out and the large brown seeds removed. The flesh is now ready for eating, which I describe as again, overripe paw paw, mild cheese with a faint after taste of onion thrown in for good measure. The texture, especially when heated is very custard-like with a glutinous smoothness that I found incredible. The brown chestnut sized seeds can also be eaten, once boiled, roasted or fried. My brother in law, no stranger to fast foods, in a moment of verbal creativity, described it as thus, "a cheese, onion and pineapple toasted sandwich". There are those whose descriptions are not so complimentary, rotting, decomposing matter, vomit and even worse !

I have created 2 recipes using this wonderful, amazing and unique fruit, one being a savoury sauce, which I used with a goats cheese souffle and the other is a dessert, which I called Durian Bavarois, which I will share with you in my next post.

Incidentally my dog, Luca was drawn like a magnet to the discarded husk and eventually had to prise it off him as I wasn't sure the effect it would have on his digestion.

Ciao for now.


  1. Your dog is so cute. I've never seen a domestic animal so attracted to durian

  2. Thanks. He is half King Charles Spaniel and half poodle, which is called a Cavoodle. Fantastic nature and a breed I would thoroughly recommend.