GEORGE TOWN: From savouring it on bread to downing it with warm coffee, there are as many ways to enjoy the King of Fruits as there are thorns on a durian.
Orchard owner Chang Teik Seng has many tales to share about the quirky ways some people eat it, proving that one man’s durian pulp is another man’s tempoyak (a condiment made from the fermented fruit).
“Some people like roasted durian. I suppose they like that burnt aroma,” he said. Others like the durian pulp boiled with green beans.
“Then there is durian curry, where the unripe pulp is cooked in spicy gravy and tastes like potatoes.
“There is also durian kerabu where the pulp is mixed with sliced chilli and cucumber, and some lime and sugar,” he said.
Chang said his customers over the years had come up with all sorts of ways to enjoy the fruit.
He spoke of people who ate durian with warm rice, plain bread or crackers.
“It’s all about the variety of flavours. Sometimes, you want a contrasting taste. Crackers are salty while durian is sweet. Plain rice balances the strong flavour of the fruit.”
As for downing it with plain black coffee, Chang said such durian lovers were seeking a “bittersweet” experience with that one.
“Some of my customers from China would take a sip of the coffee and then a bite of the durian pulp,” he said.
“There are many types of coffee beans and the best ones are those without a sour aftertaste.”
Like most Malaysians, Chang, 56, warned against the combination of durian and alcohol.
“If you drink an alcoholic beverage, wait a while before eating durians.
“You should also not mix durian with watermelon. This can cause indigestion,” said Chang who owns a durian farm in Balik Pulau.
A poster cautioning against mixing durian with caffeine, alcohol, carbonated drinks, milk products, crabs or eggplant is being circulated on social media but the claims have been debunked.
Penang Adventist Hospital nutritionist Khaw Hui Wern said there was no scientific truth to them.
“At the most, it may cause indigestion, bloating or stomach discomfort because your digestive system has to work extra hard to metabolise sugars, fats and caffeine at the same time, especially when you take a lot,” she said.
As for the durian and crab combination, Khaw said this was particularly far-fetched and that she was more worried about the calories from that mix.
“If the crabs are deep fried, or cooked in thick gravy, then it will probably cause your total daily calorie intake to exceed the recommended limit.
“Portion size and overall eating patterns are key. One serving is about the size of your hand – the pulp of two to three durian seeds is the advisable portion,” she added.
Health Ministry nutritionist Nicholas Alvin George said the myth about never mixing durian and alcohol could have come from how durians were reputed to be “heaty”.
However, he advised diabetics to avoid the fruit because of its high sugar content.