Chances are, if you wrinkle and scrunch up your nose on catching a whiff of its pungent aroma, you’re not a fan of what they call ‘stinky spikes’, or as we call it in Asia, (drum roll please) The KING of fruits…the mighty DURIAN.
Depending on which camp you belong to, you either find its strong aroma putrid or alluring. It’s a mystery how something so awful in the looks department could taste like pure heaven. If you haven’t tried it, it’s an acquired taste but for me it was love at first bite from childhood. And once you grow to fall in love with it, you might well become a durian aficionado like some of us, who’ll give anything to scoff down more globs of its unique, creamy, intensely-flavoured custard-like flesh. Its been described as ‘smelling savoury but tastes sweet’, but more often it’s earned its notoriety as what’s possibly one of the foulest-smelling foods in the world. Sigh. People clearly do not know what they’re missing. Where’s the sense of adventure?
Whenever I’m back on one of my annual food and shopping expeditions to Singapore or Malaysia, this is what I live for—my perennial favourite that I dedicate a day to go sniffing out for and to indulge in, to my heart’s content. If ever I chose to travel between February to July, I never fail to trot down to the Goodwood Park Hotel’s deli and bakery for its Durian Fiesta. It’s every durian aficionado’s dream: a buffet spread of everything oozing with durian goodness, like Durian puffs, Durian Strudel, Durian Gula Melaka Roll, Durian donuts and ice-cream amongst other mouth-watering and creative durian concoctions.
These days durians come in all kinds of varieties, the most famous being ‘Musang King’—same thing as Mao Shan Wang (Mandarin), and the more affordable and commonly found D24. The last I heard from other durian buffs, there’s new ones known as ‘Red Prawn’ and ‘Golden Phoenix’. If only their strong smell didn’t offend so much, I would’ve taken them on my seven hour-flight, but alas, it’s against airline regulations. Some swear by vacuum sealing or a homemade ‘smell-concealing’ method of cling film, aluminium foil, masking tape and baking soda. Erm, I’m not so sure it works and haven’t been game to risk being hauled off my flight. Not even for durian. For now. I’ll just head to Durian MPire at Terminal 3 of the Changi Airport for my fill before I get on the plane.
Choux Pastry for puff
3/4 Cup all purpose flour, sifted with 1/4 tsp salt
1 TB sugar
100g unsalted butter, chopped
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 large egg. 1 tsp water
Durian Cream Filling:
200 ml heavy whipping cream
120g icing sugar
1 cup mashed durian pulp
*Icing sugar to dust before serving
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees (400F). Line a baking sheet with parchment.
2. Heat water and butter in a saucepan over low heat and picture begins to simmer. Remove from the stovetop and mix in flour, 1 TB sugar, vanilla essence with a wooden spoon.
3. Return to the stove and heat on low, making sure the dough starts to come away from the sides of the saucepan and becomes silky and smooth.
4. Transfer warm dough batter into a mixer and beat on low speed, adding the eggs gradually.
5. Place the ready choux batter into a piping bag. Pipe or plop about 1-2 TB full of dough onto the parchment, taking care to space each one a 3-4 inches apart to prevent sticking. Glaze tops (using a pastry brush)with the egg wash.
6. Bake for 15 minutes then reduce temperature to about 160 degrees and bake for a further 30 minutes more or until shells of pastry is a lovely golden brown.
7.Turn off the oven, keeping door slightly ajar, using a wooden spoon and leave the shells in the oven for a further 15-20 minutes till they are dry inside and sound hollow on tapping.
8. Whip the whipping cream, icing sugar and durian pulp till well whisked. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for half an hour or longer.
9. Gently slice open the mid section of the pastry with a serrated knife.
10. Spoon cream filling into a piping bag and pipe in desired amount into each shell.
*Dust with some icing sugar before serving.