If you are not staying in Asia, you will probably have no clue what is a durian. And if you do, you'd either love it or hate it ... I'm in the love circle!
The durian is indigenous to Southeast Asia and can be found in many of the region's low-lying forests. It is most commonly cultivated in Malaysia and Thailand and holds the distinction of being the most highly-prized fruit in the region. It's also a seasonal fruit and can be found plentiful during the non-monsoon periods.
In Asia, the durian is known as the “king of fruits” because of its large size, its thorn covered shell and its “unique” odour. Short of hacking it open with an axe, it is a pretty tough fruit to open, and there is an art to this. The most distinctive characteristic of the fruit has to be its odour, some may find it fragrant whilst others cringe, short of puking as well! Its odour is so strong that it can fill up a room as quickly as oxygen. If you were to keep a durian in the fridge, everything else would absorb it's smell (something not very nice even for durian lovers). Many people have never tried it simply because they are put off by its smell. Did you know that durians are ban in most hotels in Asia and in Singapore it is no exception. In fact it's ban on public transportation and even on airplanes.
Once the fruit is opened, you’ll be able to see the yellow flesh of the fruit all lined up in a row. The texture of the flesh is creamy like custard. Its taste can either be sweet or bitter. Some people prefer the sweet ones but it is the bitter ones that durian lovers search for.
A dissenting opinion: Charles Darwin, who was a contemporary of Alfred Russell Wallace, did not like durian, and someone wrote this witty limerick:
The durian...neither Wallace nor Darwin could agree on it.
Wallace said, "It's delicious"
Darwin said,"I'm suspicious, for the flavor is scented like papaya fermented after a fruit-eating bat has pee'd on it."
Not only can the durian be eaten like any other fruit, it can be used to jazz up many local desserts. One very popular one here in Singapore is durian puffs. The quality of a durian puff is rated not by its choux pastry but rather the durian pulp which is used as it's filling. Both my husband, myself and you wouldn't believe it our two shitzus as well. simply love this dessert! One or two is simply not enough!
Ingredients for Choux Pastry:
1 cup water
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup plain flour, sifted
Ingredients for the Durian Filling:
200g of durian pulp
200ml of whipping cream
2-3 tsp of honey
2 tsp of milk
Whip the cream until stiff, then add in the durian pulp, honey and milk. Mix well and then place in the refrigerator until ready for use.
Method for the Choux:
1) Place the water and butter in a saucepan and cook over a gentle heat until the butter has melted and the water boils. Remove from stove, add all the sifted flour and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until all is combined. Return to the heat and stir continuously over the low flame until the mixture forms a ball. This should be about 2 minutes. Remove from stove and cool for about 5 minutes.
2) Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. The pastry should be soft to touch and when you lift it with the spoon it should fall back into the bowl forming a V shape as it falls off the spoon.
3) Grease a baking tray with butter and sprinkle it with cold water. Place pastry into a pastry bag (or you could use a ziplog bag, cut about 1/2" off one corner of the bag) and pipe small balls of pastry on the tray. (I used a big star tip and piped small swirls onto the baking tray)
4) Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200C for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 180C and bake for a further 20-30 minutes or until the puffs are golden and fall lightly in the hand. Remove tray from oven and pierce the puffs to allow the steam to escape. If you are able to, you can also make a cut each puff 3/4 way across. Cool puffs in a draught-free area. (If you find the insides of the puff still slightly moiste you can pop them back into the oven for a short while to dry out the insides)
5) Once the puffs are completely cooled, fill with the durian filling. Refrigerate all filled puffs. To serve remove from refrigerator and dust with some icing sugar.