Every time I go back to Singapore, we will always have a durian feast with my family. My sisters would source the best and one of the most expensive ranges of durian for me. Through the years, even though they have tried to buy from many durian sellers, they will always look out for more – in case, their usual sellers run out of the type of durian they want, they have someone else to fall back on.
Anyway, I always love to eat durian, but I have learned much about it. I became interested in finding out more after I came across Jack Neo’s movie – The King of Musang King (猫山王中王) on a Singapore Airline flight. I am not a massive fan of ‘local’ movies, but I am also not a big fan of Hollywood movies. Sitting on a 13-hour flight without any entertainment would drive me bananas though. Singapore Airlines does offer free Wi-Fi for all their passengers but there are some restrictions when flying over certain countries. So I decided to give the movie a go.
The King of Musang King is Jack Neo’s latest movie 2023 for the Chinese New Year and it is about a durian farmer Wang Mao Shan who aims to expand his business overseas in China. He develops feelings for his neighbour and business partner Liu Mei Lian. Along the way, he faces complications when her estranged husband Wang Jin Shui returns and has the challenges of Covid 19. Even though the movie’s theme is comedy and romance, I learned that you cannot use the durian seeds to grow a tree. I also found out what a durian tree looks like, which is not like I imagined! In the movie, Jack Neo plays Wang Mao Shan and besides imparting some knowledge about Durians, it also mentioned how durian trading works in order to not sell below market value. I will not mention any more as it will be great for you to watch it to appreciate this movie.
Did you know that you should never pluck a durian? When the durian is ready/mature, these durians will fall naturally from the trees. In the movie, they also show you how they ‘wrap’ the durians to prevent damage from falling. As they are highly perishable fruits and are best consumed within 48 hours of ripening, many sellers will alert their buyers that they have new stocks coming from Malaysia. Most of our durians are coming from Malaysia as they have the best tree profiles. I am not a big fan of durians from Thailand. The fruit flesh is big but tasteless. Durians can also be sourced from Indonesia, the Philippines and Brunei.
Recently, I was introduced to my family’s new go-to flavour which is the Golden Phoenix. The durian is very small and the seeds are very tiny too. It tastes bitter and has a strong smell. Some people will say the smell is gross, but for me, it was brilliant! I love it!
As my sister didn’t pre-order, she missed out on her favourite sellers. But she managed to get an introduction to another local seller from her friends which is located at one of the HBD shops. It was late (around 9pm) and he only had a few Golden Phoenix left. The price was so much cheaper than her usual seller. Her usual seller sells at $48 per kg, whilst this seller sells at $20 per kg. The durian was still very nice and flavoursome, but my sister begs to differ. I am no expert but it was good enough for me. I think between seven of us (3 of them were children) we finished six durians, they were so good.
Anyway, my sister felt that she let me down and bought more durians from her usual seller the following week when they had the stock. I did enjoy it, but my husband prefers the less bitter variety. Golden Phoenix (金凤) is more bitter than Mao Shan Wang (猫山王). There are so many varieties like D24, D13, Tekka, Red Prawn, XO and many more.
One thing to know is that if you are in Singapore, fresh durian is banned on all types of public transportation! Even though a lot of sellers seal the durian in a container it is still not allowed on public transport. There are quite a number of people who hate durian! My cousin had to run out of the gaming room because my aunty came in and fed me a durian while we were playing the werewolves card game.
Besides eating durian on its own, durian is also used to flavour a wide variety of sweet edibles. My favourite is the durian pancakes (made from frozen D24), which are sweet and creamy. My least favourite is durian cake (sweet form, not like a birthday cake) and candy as they are normally wrapped in a small roll to consume. I hate it as it is so fake. They also come in ice cream or gelato, sponge cake, ice kacang, dodol, lempuk, milkshakes, mooncakes and many more. Let me know which is your most and least favourite!
If you are visiting Singapore anytime soon, take a train to Esplanade MRT station and check out the Esplanade building. Situated at Marina Bay, this world class performance arts theatre is referred to as The Durian by the locals because of its unique structure which resembles the durian horns.
If you are into the paranormal, on Singapore 97.2 Love FM Mr Zhou’s Ghost Stories podcast, there are stories on durian farms! Do pop over and check it out: 4th October 2019.
If you have any questions, comment below and I will get back to you soon!