Durian (ทุเรียน) is the type of fruit that either you would love it or hate it. Some foreigners are able to acquire the taste of durian and absolutely love it. While for some, the smell itself would make one faint.
You are able to find Thai durians sold in stalls at the roadside, like the one below (because of the smell, retailers are not keen to lease their space to durian sellers as the smell will be quick to travel through the central air conditioning and filling up the entire shopping complex with the unmistakable ‘aroma’)
Even though both are grown from the durian trees, there are some difference between durian from Thailand and Malaysia:
1. Difference in harvesting method
In Malaysia, the growers wait for the durains to drop from the tree and would collect them from the ground. The Malaysian durians are already ripe and its flesh soft.
Whereas in Thailand, the durians are harvested before the fruit is ripe, ie the durian is plucked from the tree directly.
2. Smell or the unmistakable durian aroma
Because they are harvested before they are fully ripe, the Thai durians do not smell as strong as the Malaysian durians. So if you are in Thailand and buy the durian from a stall, if you are travelling a short distance back home, you would not find the durian smell literally filling up the space in your car.
But the Malaysian durian… yikes… the smell fills up pretty quickly. I remember buying durian once from a stall that was 10 minutes drive away from my home. By the time I reached home, my entire car smelled so strongly of the durian. Sometimes we travelled to our relatives place (in Malaysia) about 20km away as they have durian plantation and geez, the smell….took weeks with lots of pandan leafs to get rid of the smell. That is why all hotels, airlines and public transport actually ban a person from bringing in the durian. And it is hard to hide because the strong definitive aroma of the durian would waft across very quickly even though the shop try to wrap up the fruit properly.
Usually if you eat the durian you would not find the fruit smelly. But if someone else is eating it or bring into your car, well, you would not find the smell pleasant.
In Thailand especially in smaller towns, usually no one will scold if you were to buy the Thai durian and eat at an open space restaurant. Actually the first time when my host bought durian to be eaten after a meal at a restaurant, I was so nervous that we would get chased out. This is because if you do it in Malaysia and Singapore, there is a high likelihood that you would be asked to leave the restaurant. But in Thailand, so far we have not been asked to leave, nor did we got any nasty stares from other patrons of place. No one seemed to mind.
3. Texture and taste
Thai people prefer to eat durians that, well are not really ripe and a little hard. Overall the durian is not so sweet and fragrant.
They don’t quite like the soft tender flesh as found in Malaysian durians. Whereas Malaysian and Singaporeans also don’t really enjoy eating the Thai durians that are still hard and not so sweet. So when buying for Malaysian/Singaporean visitors, the Thai host would usually try to get the softer durians.
Okay, let’s not compare with the Musang King of Malaysia which is priced ridiculously high. In Malaysia, there is a sprouting ‘eat all you can’ durian stalls (usually at the roadside) where you can sit and eat all the durians you can stomach for about RM22 during the peak durian season.
In Thailand so far I’ve not seen any ‘eat all you can’ durian stall. Yes, occasionally there is a “eat all you can fruit buffet’ which included durians. Seriously…. the Thai durians are expensive. I find it more expensive than the Malaysian durians (again, this is not to compare with the overpriced Musang King) even though both countries grow their own durians. It is not like it is an imported fruit or something but is real expensive. For example, see the prepacked durians below: 3 large pieces can cost like 329 baht.
We bought a durian from this stall. It is measured by kilo- inclusive of the weight shell. The entire fruit weighed 4 kilos and it is sold at 150 baht per kilo. So the fruit ended up costing us about 650 baht. The fruit only have probably 8 pieces of durian.
5. Thai durians are harder to open than Malaysian durians
If you buy the opened and ready packed ones like the picture above, the durians would need to be consumed quickly. Hence for later consumption, folks would usually buy the whole fruit back.
Now I have helped my parents open the Malaysian durians over the years… it is really not that hard to open since the durians are ripe when harvested.
But the Thai durians…. they are more difficult to open. Initially we brought back a few so that we can eat later after we finish the ones that the store have opened for us. When we attempt to open the durian….. it is so so difficult. The shell is very very hard and we have tried to open a few of them.
I love to eat durian and are okay with both the Thai and Malaysian durians. I like the Malaysian durian because I grew up getting used to the soft texture and taste. But I also like the Thai durian because it the flesh is more intact and would not disintegrate in your hands like a lump of mush. It is also less sweet. However, having a durian is only an occasional treat because of the pricing…. literally one piece cost more than my favourite cup of coffee from Amazon.