Surely everyone knows about an Asian fruit whose smell is so offensive that it is banned on buses, trains, taxis, and aeroplanes, and hotel-doormen bar entry to anyone trying to smuggle one into their establishment?
The durian, native to Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia, has been known to the Western world for about 600 years. The 19th-century British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, a colleague of Charles Darwin, described its flesh as “a rich custard highly flavoured with almonds”. The flesh can be consumed at various stages of ripeness and it is used to flavour a wide variety of savoury and sweet edibles in Southeast Asian cuisines. The seeds can also be eaten when cooked. Yet, despite its glorious reputation, many people find the strong and strange aroma rather unpleasant.
During durian time in Malaysia there is no escaping the pungent odour of this strange-looking fruit. Greeny-yellow in colour and covered with spikes, it has the appearance of an outsized horse chestnut (a kind of fruity hand-grenade, given the smell that explodes from it). Aficionados of the fruit say they find the smell irresistible, but its detractors have struggled to find an apt simile. It has been likened to rotting onions, unwashed socks and even a sewer full of rotting pineapples. Nevertheless, it is business and there are durian plantations all over south-east Asia, with Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia being leading exporters. It is also available in tins.
How to make durian ice cream
1. Place clothes-peg on nose.
2. Remove the seeds from the durian.
3. Use an electric mixer to mix the flesh into a paste. Press the paste through a fine sieve. You should have 4 ounces durian paste at this point. (If not, use more durian).Chill the durian paste until ready to use.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the vanilla essence and sugar. Bring the milk and cream to a near boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low.
5. Pour in the egg mixture, stirring constantly to thicken. Take care not to let the mixture boil, or the milk will curdle (if you see bubbles forming at the edge of the saucepan, take it off the stove element). Allow the custard to cool.
6. Chill the custard in the freezer for 30 to 45 minutes, until it is just beginning to harden. Then, gradually stir in the durian paste, a tablespoon at a time.
7. Either continue freezing, stirring several times throughout, or finish in an ice cream maker.