Dear durian aficionado, have you tried these 10 types of durians?
Everyone knows we Singaporeans love to eat. And one of the great delights we crave is none other than the king of fruits himself – durian.
Every year, lovers of this thorny delicacy wait with bated breath for the durian season. How do you know if the season is upon us? Simple. Typically occurring between June and September, you will know for sure when the number of durians in fruit stalls grows or temporary stalls started popping up in the heartlands.
With approximately 100 varieties, we get most of our durians from Malaysia. Read on to find out the 10 popular durians from Malaysia and sniff out tips on picking the freshest and ripest:
10 Popular Types of Durians:
1. Mao Shan Wang
Also the durian of choice for ice cream and pastries, the Mao Shan Wang is indisputably the most popular in Singapore. Connoisseurs love its bittersweet taste and sticky, creamy texture. The flesh can be sweet and bitter within the same fruit. You won’t know until you take a bite!
The D1 is good if you don’t like things overly sweet. It has a pasty but dry texture. The flesh is said to slip off the seeds and has a slight crunch on the surface. Due to its milky taste, children may find them appealing.
Easy on the palate, the buttery of the D101 has a mildly sweet taste, with a hint of sour. A distinctive feature of this durian is its husk. Their thorns are long, thin and sharp with a slight curve. Despite its menacing look, it is a common favourite for many, including children, who prefer indulging in sweet durians!
Known as a ‘kampung’ breed, the D13 is another household name Singaporeans are familiar with. With its bright orange flesh and sweet, fragrant taste, the D13 is a delicious sticky treat for those who enjoy less pungent flavours. It is also less fibrous than most types.
5. D24 Sultan
If you ever need to introduce first-timers to the king of fruits, D24 Sultan comes highly recommended. Unlike most durians, it is slightly less overwhelming in flavour. Striking a good balance between sweet and bitter, the flesh of the D24 Sultan is smooth and creamy with hints of alcoholic notes. Not surprising to see why this is beloved like the Mao Shan Wang!
6. Golden Phoenix
Durians are expensive. If you want one that is of value for money – having a good amount of tasty flesh at an affordable price – go for the Golden Phoenix. Also known as Jin Feng, it has pale-coloured flesh, tiny seeds and thin husk. As for its taste, “bitter with a more watery texture and strong pungent smell” pretty much sums it up!
If you like your durian strong and bitter, the XO is your poison. The flesh of the XO is bitter and soft, with a lingering boozy aftertaste. This is due to the extended period of fermentation inside its shell. The fruit is usually smaller and the husk is identifiable by its thin and brownish-green colour.
8. Red Prawn
Got a sweet tooth? The Red Prawn is probably the one for you. Arguably the sweetest durian in town, the Red Prawn gets its name from its vibrant orange-red flesh tone. The flesh is creamier and lacks the usual bitterness you expect from durians. It also has smaller seeds, meaning more of the deliciously honeyed flesh to feast on!
Also known as Green Bamboo, Tekka is a must-try for true connoisseurs. Although not the most pleasing-looking durian due to the pale-yellow fibrous flesh and irregular-shaped seeds, it sure makes up for it in the taste department. Bitter-sweet and tasty, with a hint of citrus, Tekka is highly-raved for those who have tasted it!
10. Black Pearl
Slightly pricier due to its rarity, Black Pearl is characterized by its small, pearl-like seeds and petite exterior husk. This prized fruit is surprisingly light, smooth with very little fibre in its yellow, creamy flesh. Its bitter-sweetness makes it easy to enjoy without being too surfeiting.
11. Black Thorn (Bonus)
One of the higher-grade durians, the extremely rare Black Thorn got its name because the tips of the thorns tend to be darker. The flesh is of a very rich yellow, and tastes very sweet and custardy. If you love the Red Prawn, the Black Thorn should definitely be on your must-try list – if you can get your hands on one, of course!
12. Hor Lor (Bonus)
The uncommon Hor Lor has an elongated shape, very much like its namesake – the gourd. Hor Lor is recommended for people who prefer a less overwhelming flavour. Compared to other durians, its flesh is slightly drier, sweeter, less pungent, and thus, more palatable for first-timers.
How To Pick Durians?
Let’s face it, buying the king of fruits can be a daunting task, especially for the amateurs. Which variety to pick? Is Mao Shan Wang the best? What is the cheapest durian? What to look out for when the seller opens the durian for inspection? So many questions. Here are some tips:
How to smell
Experts never smell the base of the durian. Mr Goh Kwee Leng, 58, owner of 717 Trading, says: “The base of the husk is the thickest part so it is harder to smell the aroma of the fruit.”
Instead, sniff along the seams or split lines of the durian. You should smell a slight fragrance. If there is no aroma, the fruit is unripe. If the aroma is too strong, it is probably over-ripe.
The right shape
The best durians are oval or slightly oblong. Odd-shaped fruits are likely to have fewer chambers inside and so fewer flesh-covered seeds.
A perfectly round one may be a sub-standard durian because it is usually less aromatic and the seeds are usually bigger. The meat will be less fleshy and creamy too.
Different varieties of durians come in different sizes. For example, XO durians are generally smaller while there are no small Red Prawn durians – these are generally large fruit. So be suspicious if a seller points to a large XO durian or a small Red Prawn one.
Trick of the trade
Some sellers try to push durians that have been rejected by other customers. Watch the vendors to ensure that they are opening a new durian.
Instead of prodding the flesh-covered seeds when the seller presents an open fruit, customers should taste the durian. If it is bad, or not the variety promised, they are not obliged to buy it, sellers say.
Mr Richard Woo, general manager of Four Seasons Durian Cafe, says: “When you pinch or prod the fruit, you are touching only the skin and not the flesh, so there is no way to tell if the fruit is good. Taste it instead, that way you can really tell if the durian is any good.”
The real deal
To make sure a seller isn’t passing off a lesser durian as a Mao Shan Wang, look for prominent seams radiating from the base of the durian. The seams are lines where the spikes of the durian run parallel to each other. The base of a real D24 durian has a flat round spot about half the size of a 5-cent coin.
*Article repurposed from Hail the king of fruit – 10 types of durians from Malaysia by The Straits Times.*