Hail the king of fruit - 10 types of durians from Malaysia

Fruits from Malaysia are on showcase at the new Agrobazaar Malaysia, which was opened officially by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak on Aug 27.

The 5,100 sq ft outlet in Sultan Gate off Beach Road will promote the fruit and other agro-based produce of Malaysia.

Singapore is Malaysia's biggest export market for fruits and fruit products, with annual exports worth RM300 million (S$119 million), contributed mostly by watermelons and the durian, reports The Star Online.

Among the fruits from across the Causeway, durian has always reigned as king among Singaporeans.

We sniff out 10 types of durians from Malaysia.

1. MAO SHAN WANG

Other names: Butter durian, Cat Mountain King, Rajah Kunyit

Colour: Bright yellow

Taste notes: Durian connoisseurs love its bittersweet taste and sticky, creamy texture. The flesh can be sweet and bitter within the same fruit.

From: Kelantan, Pahang and Johor

2. GOLDEN PHOENIX

Other names: Jin Feng

Colour: Pale yellow-white

Taste notes: Bitter with a more watery texture and strong pungent smell.

From: Pahang, Johor

3. XO

Colour: Pale yellow

Taste notes: Bitter and extremely soft, fleshy meat with an almost alcoholic taste.

From: Johor, Genting, Cameron Highlands

4. D24

Other names: Sultan

Colour: Pale yellow

Taste notes: Very creamy and bitter.

From: Johor, Pahang, Cameron Highlands

5. D13

Colour: Deep burnt orange

Taste notes: Sweet, less fibrous than most durians and not very strong in taste. This durian has large seeds. Good for people trying durians for the first time

From: Johor, Segamat

6. D1

Colour: Pale yellow

Taste notes: Small seeds, milky taste. The flesh slips off the seeds and has a light crunch on the surf

From: Johor

7. D101

Colour: Orange

Taste notes: Easy on the palate, slightly sweet and creamy.

From: Pahang, Johor

8. RED PRAWN

Other names: Hong Xia, Ang Hay

Colour: Orangey-red

Taste notes: Sticky with a sweet aftertaste.

From: Pahang, Johor

9. GREEN BAMBOO

Other names: Qing Zhu

Colour: Pale yellow with a slight greenish tinge

Taste notes: Sweet with fibrous flesh.

From: Johor

10. BLACK PEARL

Other names: Hei Zhen Zhu

Colour: Very pale yellow with grey undertones

Taste notes: Slightly bitter, smooth and creamy with small seeds.

Origin: Johor

HOW TO PICK A DURIAN

For durian newbies, wandering into a stall to buy the fruit can be a daunting task. Which variety to pick? Is that really a Mao Shan Wang durian? What to look out for when the seller opens the durian for inspection?

Almost all connoisseurs we ask say it is important to go to a reputable seller, and to keep going back if the durians are good. Housewife Shelia Lim, 52, a self-confessed durian enthusiast, says: "Customer loyalty counts for a lot. The seller will keep the good durians for you, so you know you're paying for quality fruit." She usually goes to Combat Durian in Balestier Road.

Businessman David Lim, 65, says: "I have been going to the same shop in Balestier Road for 15 years and have never once been disappointed."

Here are some other 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 durian is unripe. If the aroma is too strong, the durian is probably over-ripe.

The right shape

The best durians are oval or slightly oblong in shape. Odd-shaped fruit are likely to have fewer chambers inside and so fewer flesh-covered seeds.

A perfectly round durian may have sub-standard fruit because it is usually less aromatic and the seeds are usually bigger and the meat less fleshy and creamy.

Size matters

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.

Taste test

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, 40, 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.


This article was first published on Aug 29, 2014.
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