I just searched words in thesauruses (thesaurusi?) for 15 minutes to find the word “deceptive.” This message from my last brain cell has been brought to you by red wine.
I gave a big teaser in my last post, saying that this one would be about a very dangerous food, so as I’m writing I’m kind of bummed.
I’ll do the reveal, but without any fanfare — I mail-ordered scorpions. A whole grab bag of exotic bugs meant for eating, even. Oh, the blogging hijinks I imagined, for the bargain price of $20 plus shipping. But from the moment I tapped, “Yes, I will happily pay to import disgusting, poisonous arachnids to eat,” I was suspicious about whether they would arrive. I’ve watched enough Border Security on TV to know that border services doesn’t generally enjoy letting dead things into the country. How many Chinese people do I have to watch having meat confiscated from their pants before I’ll learn that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency hates edible imports more than U.S. Republicans hate human imports? (Please, please don’t support Donald Trump. This message has been brought to you by the huge majority of global citizens).
I still check my mailbox excitedly every single day, and if a little box that makes scratching noises suddenly shows up you’ll be the first to know (I think they’d arrive dead, but they are meant for eating, so I’m not even 100% sure about that one).
So instead, I decided to experiment with another very dangerous food that I’ve known about for some time, but have always procrastinated preparing because of its dirty reputation. It’s the Pepe le Pew of the food world
What I’m referring to is durian.
I’d seen the big spiky fruits in global-type grocery stores and markets many times before, but I had avoided them because of their stinky rep. Most articles you read about them say that they smell like rotten onions or gasoline, and that they’re banned from lots of hotels in Southeast Asia because of the stink. I imagined opening one in my kitchen and having the smell linger for days, and I wondered how I could swallow something that smelled totally rank. Yes I somehow manage that when it comes to tequila, but doing that took years of painstaking, gagolicious practice.
Well, it turns out that much like Harry Potter, durian’s reputation was completely overblown (kidding! Love Harry. Please don’t leave my blog, lovely muggles, I just said that to get a rise out of you. I hereby promise a post on butterbeer).
Now I’m not saying it doesn’t stink. And when I smelled the king of fruits, I did think, “Oh, so that’s what they mean by floral rotten onions.” I don’t know how it manages to smell like both lilies and onions, but it does. And my dog was definitely interested in the pits. But despite the smell, I sucked some back, and it was sweet with a gentle, pulpy consistency, almost like very ripe mango (and yet completely different).
I had already decided that I was going to bake with the durian meat in case I didn’t like it so that I could surround it by the most palatable foods I could think of — butter, sugar, and frosting seemed to hit the mark. I found this easy cake recipe and dug out my good ol’ bundt (what did you call me? Sorry Mom, couldn’t resist that joke). I didn’t feel like making a thick icing, so instead used a lemon glaze, which didn’t turn out as thick as hers was in the picture, but it was still tasty (maybe add more icing sugar than directed).
Durian Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze
- 1C softened butter (250g)
- 1 1/4C sugar (250g)
- 4 eggs
- healthy cup of durian meat (200g), separated from pits and chopped (meat is pulpy and should easily break up to be incorporated in batter, but cut up hunks as necc)
- healthy cup of all-purpose flour (250g self-raising flour in original recipe in case you’re a Brit, which is just more than a cup of all-purpose in case you’re not)
- 2 tsp baking powder (omit if using self-raising flour)
- 1/8 tsp baking soda
- 3Tbsp milk
- 1 3/4C icing sugar (or more, per my earlier note)
- 1/4C lemon juice
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1Tbsp butter
Directions: Preheat to 350. Butter and flour your bundt (tee hee), tapping out excess flour. In your mixer, mix butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. Add durian. In a separate bowl, mix (or sift if you’re like that) dry ingredients. Add dry to mixer bowl in 2 batches, alternating with bits of milk. Pour batter into pan. Bake about 30 minutes, until tester comes away clean.
For glaze: Combine ingredients in a microwaveable bowl. Microwave on high for 45 seconds. Remove, and whisk until combined, and pour over cake.
My 9-year-old daughter took those last two pictures, and I can’t help but be annoyed by them. Here I was, feeling pretty good about my food pictures, and then she grabs my camera and snaps those in her first try ever. Let’s just call her a food photo prodigy, mmkay?
Anyway, the durian cake was really nice. The glaze was super lemony, and I love lemony. And surprisingly, there was a hint of a flavour of banana bread about the cake, even though there were absolutely no bananas in it (even my little guy picked that up). Weird, eh? Maybe tropical fruits have certain base flavours in common in the same way apples/pears/peaches do? But the bottom line is that I have no reason to fear durian anymore. As with a good ol’ stinky cheese or a lovely garlic, sometimes it’s beneficial to ignore the nose to please the tummy.
And hey, do you want to know the weirdest learning I had about durian? It’s a bit TMI, so if this is going to bug you, stop reading right now.
I told you, go away.
You’re still here. Okay, I don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Okay, then, here goes. I went to spin class the morning after I ate one little piece of durian cake. And you know what? I think I sweated out durian.
See? Told you you didn’t want to know. But damn, that’s some olfactory superpower in that big spiky fruit.