Sunday, May 16, 2010

Durian: Where Fruit is King.

It's been a busy time for your brave blogger.  I met George Romero recently (see previous blog), Elise and I continue to work away at wedding plans, for example see THIS post on Elise's blog about a stamp I designed and had made, we both saw and enjoyed Iron Man 2 and this past weekend I had the opportunity to finally try the infamous Durian (a fruit so controversial I feel it needs to be capitalized) AND I made a new batch of Bacon Bourbon!

Pardon me while I borrow heavily from Wikipedia:

"Widely known and revered in southeast Asia as the "king of fruits", the durian is distinctive for its large size, unique odour, and formidable thorn-covered husk.  The fruit can grow as large as 30 centimetres (12 in) long and 15 centimetres (6 in) in diameter, and it typically weighs one to three kilograms (2 to 7 lb). Its shape ranges from oblong to round, the colour of its husk green to brown, and its flesh pale yellow to red, depending on the species.
The edible flesh emits a distinctive odour, strong and penetrating even when the husk is intact. Some people regard the durian as fragrant; others find the aroma overpowering and offensive. The smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust. The odour has led to the fruit's banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in southeast Asia."

Our lovely host TheRedMenace invited us over to try this strange delicacy.  We had all heard about it and were dying to try it but the fruit's reputation had us all somewhat nervous.  Some reviewers said it smells like old gym socks left out in a swamp and tastes of garbage and rotten onions, some talk about it being sweet and tasting of almonds.  We didn't know exactly what to think but we were up for the adventure!

We all expected it to immediately give off a foul oder but it really didn't smell like much of anything, maybe a bit of melon husk.  Speaking of husk, this thing is pretty uncomfortable to hold, it's heavy, about the size of a football and is packed densely with spikes.  They say the fruit is capable of killing a person unfortunate enough to be under the tree when one of these things fall.  Surprisingly though, it's not difficult to break into.  The spike tips are hard but the rest of the fruit is a bit rubbery.  We were again struck by how much it did NOT smell once it was cut open, we may have been lucky, since this fruit was previously frozen for transport across to the states, that may have cut it's fragrance.
The edible insides are a bit stringy and very custard-like around a large seed.  I waited patiently, barely containing my excitement, while the plates were passed around and then dove in.  I found the fruit to taste strongly of honeydew melon at first, then I got the almond flavoring and there was a bit of a sweet onion after taste that was not unpleasant.  Everyone agreed that it was not as bad as we were all expecting.  I really enjoyed it and kept going back for more.
Maybe if we were in Asia at their peak season we'd find it more off putting, but knowing now how it tastes, I doubt it.  The Durian has certainly lived up to it's status of King of Fruits.


In other food adventures, I made up a new batch of Bacon Bourbon this weekend.  The recipe is so simple and the results are enjoyable enough that Elise recommended I add it to the blog.

I found this recipe when we were having an Iron Chef Bacon Battle a year or two ago.  The original recipe called for Four Roses bourbon...

...and, are you ready for this?  Bacon.  Ok, well a half pound of bacon.  Basically, you cook up the bacon, let the bacon fat cool a bit, add the bourbon and let sit for a few hours.  It's best to use a bowl that's easy to put in the fridge, that helps to solidify the fat and makes it very easy to remove.  I scooped out as many of the bacony bits as I could but some will always remain in the mix.  Add it all back into a bottle and you are good to go.  This time I felt the bourbon needed to be MORE baconey and added the drippings from a full pound.  I think it was worth it, even if it makes the bottle a bit icky looking (or more delicious looking, depending on your perspective).

Here the bourbon has been transferred to a new bottle where you can see the fat sticking to the top.

The Four Roses is pretty inexpensive, it's about $20 a bottle.  It's a nice smooth bourbon and the bacon leaves a nice smokiness and sweetness in your mouth.  I really enjoy using this to make a Manhattan with some cherry bitters, or as I call it, a Cherry Bacon Manhattan.  Mmmm boy!


  1. Great description of the durian. It was alot better than I expected.

  2. Yay, I'm glad you enjoyed the adventure! Also, I'm dying to try your bacon manhattan - maybe we should do a cocktail adventure soon? Everyone could bring a signature drink...