Black Thorn durians – more expensive than Musang King!

black thorn durians

I just came back from a Black Thorn durian session with Poey. I’ve been eagerly awaiting to taste this particular durian since I inquired about it. It’s much more expensive than Musang King (currently going for an average of RM 22 / kg), which is an overrated culvitar IMHO.

new black thorn durian

It’s not easy to get either. I dropped by several times and the only stall that sells it says they don’t have stock and I finally got the guy’s number so I can call and check if they have it before I drive over.

black thorn durian

The banner advertising the Black Thorn durian says that it won some kind of award in 2012, which is probably their justification for the high price. The Chinese words seem to translate literally – hei tze (black thorn).

black thorn size

The NEW Black Thorn durian goes for RM 30 / kg. The price didn’t budge until I asked the dude if I can get a lowered price if I come today. He offered it at RM 25 / kg.

durian black thorn

Note that only three (3) durians in the topmost row in the display picture are Black Thorn, the others are just chucked there. The interesting thing I noticed about Black Thorn durian is that it has a flat bottom, much like Musang King:

how to tell black thorn durian

There are no thorns at the end of the durian (opposite from the stalk). This particular durian cultivar originates from Penang and another interesting quality that distinguishes it besides the flat bottom is the presence of a longkang (drain) like Teka durians, except this looks more…er, anatomical in nature. smirk

black thorn characteristics

Black Thorn pretty much tastes like advertised – the durian flesh is a bright hue of orange, a color some people like and feel is more palatable. It starts out sweet and has a bitter end note, like XO durians – just as intense but not quite so long lasting. It’s creamy and sticky – the flesh comes off the seed well.

poey hb

It also has little to no fiber, which is a plus point…it makes the durian coat the palate easily and overwhelm it it does – this is a very rich durian, make no mistake about it.

hei chi durians

It’s a medium to large sized durian (ours is almost 3 kg) and the others are pretty much in the same weight league. It was sold for RM 65 for this 2.6 kg durian.

black thorn durian flesh

However, there are abundant seeds inside – counted 14 seeds and despite having medium seeds (I don’t call that small seeds, misleading advertising) it does have a lot of flesh on it – quality flesh to boot.

hb black thorn

I’ll rate this as a not very complex durian flavor wise but it’s a good, rich and satisfying one. It’s the *KING* of the King of Fruits, price-wise at least. I wouldn’t say it’s worth the price though, but definitely a must try for all durian fans. :D

Durian Degustation – 5 great late season durians!

1. D160 / Teka / Green Bamboo

durian teka

This is a rather distinctive durian that is easily identifiable from the “longkang” (drain) running down the middle of the fruit. It was purchased for RM 15 / kg and the fruits are normally medium sized. This particular durian weighs 2.1 kg – about the average for this cultivar, making it over RM 30.

green bamboo durian

There are only 10 seeds in the durian, which translates to about RM 3 per seed. The seeds are tooth shaped – these come from Pahang and there are regional differences when planted in different locations.

teka durian

The Teka in the market now are delicious sweet to bittersweet specimens, but rather expensive – the original listed price is RM 18 / kg. It does have a very high flesh to seed ratio though.

2. Udang Merah / Red Prawn / Ang Heh

ang heh pahang

Look at the unique shape of the durian! It’s a star-shaped durian with 5 sides like a durian I came across not too long ago. These are not the original Balik Papan, Penang Red Prawn durians but cultivars that has been transplanted in…Pahang.

pahang udang merah

It’s where we get most of our durians here. The flesh is orange to reddish, the distinctive color that gives the durian it’s name.

red prawn pahang

I got it at a great time – RM 11 / kg and it’s absolutely fabulous with tiny seeds. These Pahang Ang Heh really tastes good but the drops are irregular so it’s hard to come by.

red prawn pahang durians

I’ve only had it three times this season.

3. Mas Selangor

mas selangor durian

This is a popular durian – sweet and creamy. The 1.6 kg fruit we chose is sold at RM 14 / kg. There’s only five (5) seeds inside so that works out to about RM 4.50 per seed.

mas selangor

It’s not a durian with a very complex flavor profile.

durian mas selangor

I reckon the Mas Selangor breed is more for the times when you just want a classic, fleshy, sweet durian. :)

4. D163 / Holo / Hor Lor

holo durian

This is named after a gourd – the words “hor lor” actually means water gourd. It’s a Northern durian but the ones we get are from Pahang. It’s listed as RM 15 / kg but managed to get it at RM 14 / kg. It’s also a medium sized fruit, got a 2kg + durian for RM 33.

horlor durian

Holo is great for those people who likes a dry, bittersweet, creamy and sticky durian with medium seeds that coats the palate and tongue like nothing else. Highly recommended.

5. Kan Yao (D158)

durian kan yao

This is an absolute bargain at RM 6 / kg. I had a 2.1 kg fruit for just RM 12. The Kan Yao we get here is also from Pahang and it’s bitter to bittersweet, just the way I like it.

kanyao durian

The seeds are large but with the low price it’s a good buy, and the season has just about ended so if you see any, I’ll go for it. :D

Starfruit shaped Five Star Durian and late season XO

five star durian

This is a rather distinctively shaped durian with 5 sides, like a starfruit (carambola). The seller told me it’s called “Five Star Durian”, he translated it from “mm zhi gor” (five seed fruit?). I found it rather intriguing and wanted to buy it but unfortunately it’s not for sale coz it’s unripe. I was told it’s popular in Gopeng, Perak.

It’s a huge one, this durian – 4-6 kilograms.

xo durians

I got some XO durians instead. It’s the end of the season for XO. I opened 3, and bought two. You can actually return durians you don’t like it after it’s opened. I found one too dry and replaced it. I was a little dubious about the third one and was asked to taste it.

xo durian flesh

Free tastes are common and even if it doesn’t go into the scales, they don’t actually lose from it. Durian flesh is very light compared to the husk, which is the heavy part. of the durian. XO durians are bitter and it’s one of my default buys. It has loose flesh that slides right off the seed – it’s runny and creamy with medium large seeds and little fiber.

durian xo

There is said to be an “alcoholic smell” to XO durians. That’s not right, it shouldn’t smell like ethanol, that would indicate fermentation (meaning it’s rotting). It’s more like an aftertaste – it just stays put on a bit longer, a mild alcohol-like lingering note.

durians xo

Note that this is from an ex-alcoholic with no problems with drinking neat 40% spirits straight from the bottle so my description on this may deviate (quite) far from the norm of the population bell curve especially those who thinks Islay single malts are horrendous. smirk

xo durian

I was quoted RM 12 / kg as the end of season price (as opposed to RM 8 / kg last week) – asked for RM 10 / kg and got it. I bought 2 durians for 3.2 kilograms total. It got rounded up to 3 kgs so that’s RM 30 for a few pieces. XO is one of the more expensive durian clones.

xo seed

It’s good though. It’s very bitter and there’s really nothing mystical about this – it’s named XO (after the extra old designation for cognac) but it’s not alcoholic (unless you ferment it). I can best describe it as you having a BITTER aftertaste in your mouth at the back of your tongue even hours after eating it.

XO durian season is over so if you want some late season ones, better get it now. It’s delicious! :)

Durian jantung (heart shaped durian) – genuine species or description?

jantung durian

I was trawling the SS2 durian spots the other day, asking around for something a little different. I wanted to sample something other than the usual Musang King/D24/XO/D101 etc. The usual suspects, in other words.

durian jantung weight

One seller told me about durian jantung. I asked around a few shops in the area – some of them carry it, some doesn’t. It would seem that “durian jantung” literally means “heart shaped durian”. Not heart as in <3heart as in the organ in your body that’s prone to cardiac arrests.

unique durian

What no one could tell me is whether this is a genuine species (it doesn’t have a D-X classification, but neither does multiple other good durians) or just a type (e.g. shape) of durian.

durian jantung thorns

Durian jantung is a really interesting durian – I was quoted RM 12 / kg which is a little on the high side of things. I bargained down to RM 10 / kg and that was the minimum price they’ll let it go…and with good reason.

two seed durian

It doesn’t look like much. I bought a 1.6 kg heart shaped durian that when opened produced only two (2) seeds!

heart durians

I was surprised. That works out to RM 8 per seed!

durian jantung outer

I was told that durian jantung usually only has 2 seeds due to the unusual shape, but those are huge seeds and I wasn’t disappointed.

durian jantung flesh

Imagine a piece of durian the size of:

  • A hand grenade
  • A large lemon
  • A mouse (the large old office ones with exactly the same size and mass)
  • An adult human fist

…and now imagine it FULL OF DURIAN FLESH!

durian jantung

There’s only a tiny seed inside.

durian jantung segment
Start eating…

durian jantung seed
…and after a whole lotta durian, ends with small seed

durian jantung eat

It’s maybe 1/30 the size of the flesh. It’s absolute value for money, RM 8 buys you a gigantic fist sized hunk of light fibrous, sweet to slightly bitter-sweet, semi-alcoholic, and slightly wet durian flesh.

durian jantung seeds

It’s perfection.

durian heart

Durian jantung is my new favorite durian.

durian jantung size

I paid RM 16 for the entire 1.6 kg durian which produced just 2 seeds but the flesh is equal to many other popular strains and it tastes fabulous!

Golden Swallow durian with unusual dual seed configuration

Has anyone heard of a Golden Swallow durian?

golden swallow durian segment

I was out getting some durians when I came across this stall explaining the virtues of this particular strain of durian to an elderly lady. He didn’t pay much attention to me as he made his pitch – it’s called Golden Swallow (jin yan zi) and it’s very popular in Singapore.

golden swallow durians

This Golden Swallow durian sounds a little like Golden Phoenix to me (except the latter is called jin feng) and apparently just a few of these babies drop in the orchards each day. The durian seller only had two and the lady bought one of them.

golden phoenix durian

I was intrigued when he opened it up – the flesh looks really good – yellow with a reddish hue and I asked the durian seller how much it was. He quoted me a price of RM 8 / kg which is about the same price as XO strain is right about now.

golden swallow durian spikes

He started doing his pitch again, this time to me, and I told him I heard what he said to the lady. I was more interested in the origins of the Golden Swallow – the dude, named Ah Ti, usually operates out of SS3 in Petaling Jaya and they have their own orchard, from which comes this new durian.

Well, it’s new to me coz I haven’t had it before.

golden swallow durian

I told him I wanted two but he said he only had one left after selling the other to the lady and opened it up for my inspection. It looks good and I haven’t had a Golden Swallow durian before so I bought the one that was left. It’s 1.7 kg but the guy gave me a discount and sold it at 1.5 kg – RM 14.

tiny seed

Golden Swallow taste notes:

  • Bitter to slightly bitter-sweet
  • Wet/runny/watery
  • Little to no fiber – very creamy
  • Pungent with lots of fresh
  • Unusual dual configuration seeds

durian flesh

Eating the durian:

large seed durian

First, a large seed…

bite

Followed by a tiny one…

eat

It’s the same large-tiny arrangement throughout the segment!

seed

The dual configuration seeds is perhaps the most telling aspect of the Golden Swallow. It looks like this:

golden swallow seeds

It’s remarkably consistent! There’s 4 whole segments and it produced:

Huge seed – tiny seed
Huge seed – tiny seed
Huge seed – tiny seed
Huge seed

jin yan zi

I think I might have accidentally eaten that last tiny seed. It’s smaller than my fingernail! I got the person to write down the name in Chinese for me on the box and I got his number so he can tell me when there’s a fall in his orchard.

golden swallow durian flesh

I reckon this Golden Swallow durian is absolute value for money if you like durians with the taste notes above. It also has a characteristic huge-tiny seed configuration that’s consistent throughout the entire durian. It’s always in a pair – each segment will have one large seed and one tiny one, the size of my fingernail.

jing yan zhi

I can see why it’s called Golden Swallow if the seed configuration is that unique.

Has anyone heard of this strain/cultivar? It’s called Golden Swallow and I think the most distinctive part about it is the seeds. Just look at the tiny-large seed consistency in one segment below! It also has wrinkly skin that barely holds in the deliciously bitter creamy flesh inside.

durian seeds

I would definitely buy it again – it’s cheap right now at RM 8 / kg and a truly remarkable durian!

The famous Red Prawn (Ang Heh) durian at Balik Pulau, Penang

red prawn durian

This should be called The Hunt for Red October Prawn. Red Prawn or Udang Merah is known locally in Hokkien as “Ang Heh” – it’s a breed of durian only available in Penang – there’s too much local demand (and exports to countries like Singapore I imagine) for it to come down to Klang Valley.

Thus, after 4 meals before 12 pm we finally drove to Balik Pulau (it’s where the orchards for Ang Heh are) where I ran down to stall after stall only to be told the same thing:

There are no Red Prawn durians. The season just ended.

One stall sold his *very last* Red Prawn durian to a customer just before we came.

balik pulau durian stall

I had almost given up at this point when the next stall claimed to have Red Prawn. In fact, there were 4 of these luscious durians.

red prawn penang

Red Prawn is characterized by it’s red colored flesh and small seeds. It’s not bright red like the Sarawakian local ones, although some can have an orange hue, with just a tinge of red, or striped. I paid RM 45 for one durian – it’s RM 25/kg after a bit of bargaining.

ang heh durian

The durian only had 5 seeds!!!

red prawn

That works out to about RM 10 per seed. It was delicious though, definitely worth it for durian lovers. :)

Suanie got another one to take away, this has more seeds and it’s heavier, cost RM 50. There’s also various other Penang-only durians on offer – you can listen to the proprietor talking about it.

Koh Tsu Koon durian

Koh Tsu Koon is also another famous durian strain but I couldn’t afford to part with another RM 50 for a tiny durian, despite it being famed for having miniscule or no seeds at all, which is a running joke about the ex-Penang CM.

udang merah

All in all, it was a good durian hunt – I got to eat Red Prawn and even though it wasn’t as red as what I tasted on a previous excursion, it’s good. It tastes like Red Prawn.

durian udang merah

Sarawak also has a bright red colored durian (as does Penang, which has several). Red Prawn is pretty good, and at that price point, a bargain compared to overrated durian strains like Musang King.

eating red prawn durian

We sapu-ed two out of the four Red Prawn durians left – it was the end of season for that strain, D15 is still going strong though. :)