It really isn’t my fault. The information on the web, and even from locals on the street say that December used to be a Durian harvest. So I posted about Durian’s second season. An excited out of town friend sent me a WhatsApp message saying he was in town and read my post. He invited me to go get some. So my one daughter who enjoys Durian, and my friend, and I went into Balik Pulau looking for a Durian stand… and there were none.
Categories: Fruit Tags:
Here in Penang, we get two Durian seasons. The first is the one with the big Durian festival that last through the month of June. It’s a pretty big deal because tourism is one of Penang’s top industries. Durian is a big draw for many tourists. Yes, some people do go out of their way to find a bit of the stinky fruit. My family has two.
We’re at the start of Penang’s second Durian season, which if the harvest is good, can last until the end of Feb. The best stuff can be found closer to the farms. Go out to Balik Pulau, There are pop up stands all along the road past the Teluk Bahang Dam.
There are going to be pop up stands all over town, and they should be fresh Durian. How could they not be, they fly off the truck to the eager fanatics in Penang. In my experience, the pop up stands won’t know the varieties they are selling. They don’t know a D7 from a D11. You need to get out to Balik Pulau to get that kind of information.
So here’s my Advice to first time durian eaters
- Go with a friend. Bring a fanatic. They aren’t hard to find. Their enthusiasm for Durian is hard to miss, and sometimes infectious. The other advantage of getting Durian in a group is that you can sample more varieties. Ask for the sweetest ones your first time.
- Get it fresh. Don’t buy from a container the first time. Don’t try Durian-flavored ANYTHING. Watch them crack the spiky fruit open. Video it for your facebook feed.
- Eat from closer to the stem. The tastier meat is closer to the top of the fruit.
- Bring water, tissues and hand sanitizer. Your hands will get dirty, if you eat durian correctly. hand sanitizer will help get the smell off your hands.
Post your pics on the Living in Penang Facebook page. Have a lovely durian feast.
I found this curious looking fruit the last time I was at the wet market. The shopkeeper called it a custard apple. I took it home and tried it and I really loved it. My family found it to be too sweet. You know it’s pretty sweet when a five-year-old thinks it’s too sweet.
The locals call this fruit a nona. I have since found out that it is the sweet cousin of the sirsak that we found in Indonesia. Sirsak is called soursop in English, and I’ve heard that in parts of the world, nona, is called sweetsop. Read more…
Red dragonfruit has got to be one of the best parts of living in Penang. In South America, dragonfruit is known as pitaya, but here we call it buah naga, which means dragon fruit. I get mine at the wet market but I’ve seen them at Tesco and at Cold Storage.
When we lived in Indonesia, we could only find the white variety. The red one was a treat that we discovered on our first trip to Kuala Lumpur.
Nutritionally dragonfruit is considered a superfood. It is high in vitamin C. It is rich in calcium and phosphorus.
The color of red dragonfruit is very bright and attractive. It also can stain. We usually have to be very careful with the children when they eat it. Smoothies and blended fruit drinks are a better way to go, to keep the color off clothing.
How to eat
The skin comes off the fruit pretty easily. However, be careful, because you want to minimize how much you touch the inside. I’ve stained my fingers so that the color doesn’t wash off for a whole day.
There are little black seeds in it, similar to the seeds in kiwifruit. These are edible and don’t cause problems in smoothies.
Below is an illustrated step-by-step procedure for preparing a dragonfruit.
It’s that time of year when trucks… excuse me, lorries, overflowing with this spiky fruit are parked along the roads in Penang. The pungent aroma of fresh durian attract the addicts and repel those of us who have not joined the cult. And quite the cult it is. Living in Southeast Asia, your friends will want you to try this particular wonderfulness. My friend Amanda recently posted about durian on her blog.
I have a hard time getting durian past my nose to my mouth. Since I’m such a non-expert, I’ve been doing some interviews with people here, and people who have had experience living in Asia.
What’s better than living in a place with a mango season? Living in a place with two!
Actually because of the varieties that are available, and because there are imports coming in from other Southeast Asian countries, there really isn’t a time when mangos are not available. And that is a wonderful thing.
There are several varieties of mangoes, but our favorite is a green skin one called ‘honey gold’. In Indonesia, we called it harum manis. As its name implies this is a sweet mango. It is soft too. A ripe one will practically melt in your mouth.
There are other varieties that are tart and stringy. They can be good too. Sometimes I cut a sweet one and a tart one and have a bowl with both. Good eats for sure.
I usually try to pick my own mangos myself. I generally go by touch. A ripe mango will not be rock hard. There will be some give to the skin. But it won’t be so soft that the skin stays dented after you press into it.
Here’s an illustrated guide to how I cut a mango. Read more…
Water isn’t the only way to stay hydrated. Most road side stands will make blended juices. Look behind the counter though, because if there isn’t a blender, or fresh fruit there, then they are making the juice from syrup or a powder. While this is alright, this isn’t what you came to Southeast Asia for, is it?
Food courts will often have a drink stall. They will have the best selection when it comes to fresh fruit juices. Restaurants will often be hit or miss when it comes to juice.
Even if you do see fresh fruit, some of the juice choices will be syrup or powder. Feel free to ask, no one will be offended. If added sugar is something you worry about, you should ask if they add sugar or syrup. Some places will bring you the syrup on the side so that you can sweeten the drink to your taste.
Fruit juice is a great way to keep children hydrated. My children are particularly fond of watermelon juice. They also gravitate toward lychee juice. Watch out for lychee juice though, because it is, more often than not, made from canned lychees.
Here’s a list of tropical juices that we’ve been able to find in our travels.
- Mango – seasonal.
- Papaya – often needs to be sweetened.
- Coconut water – can be opened in front of you and served from the coconut. Added bonus, you can eat the flesh from the coconut as well.
Lassis and yogurt drinks
Indian and Mahmak restaurants will serve lassi, a yogurt drink. These can be plain, sweet, or blended with fruit. The creaminess of the yogurt drink can calm down the heat of spicy Indian dishes.
A friend’s son ordered a banana-mango lassi. This is not on the menu and it took some convincing for the waiter to put in the order, but it is all he’ll drink at that particular restaurant. All that to say, experiment, and you might find something extra special.
Do you have a favorite tropical drink?
Share your special finds in the comments below.