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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fruity Spikes

Left, a durian. Right, a marang.
A grocer fillets a durian.
You may not realize it, but it is the start of the durian season. The famed "king of fruits" is controversial to the western sensibility because of its potent aroma - some have described it akin to rotting meat, but to many in Southeast Asia, that scent is just a signal of the delicious flavors encased in the spiky shell. Indeed, an odorless variant bred for commercialization seemed to cause more rancor than celebration.

While many hotels and airplanes will explicitly ban the durian (I've heard stories of hotel guests bearing market bought fruit discreetly escorted to out of scent regions where they are requested to finish enjoying the purchase, and cleaning up before entering the building) so as not to offend Western tourists, the inoffensive marang often gets hit due to the similar appearance and association.

Inside the marang.
A relative to the jackfruit and the breadfruit, the marang is native to Southeast Asia, and sensitive to cold conditions. The fruit doesn't travel well, and thus, it rarely seen or tasted outside of the region. Once removed from the shell, the white flesh around each seed (an aril about the size of a grape) starts to brown on exposure to air. 

The flavor is sweet, tart, creamy, complex. It has a far milder odor than a durian (as with most fruits), the seeds can be saved, dried, and roasted like nuts. I've never encountered marang used in any processed food products, such as dried fruit, or jams, or breads, but only eaten fresh, and without any adornment. 

Marang prepped for consumption.

1 comment:

  1. I once heard David Arnold from the FCI once pressure cooked durian to a delicious caramel. He hasn't been able to replicate it since but it sounds like a great idea.