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What to do with: Durian fruit

Durian fruit | David Hammond

Durian fruit | David Hammond

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Makes 8-10 servings

6 to 8 brined grape leaves (see Note)

1 (4- or 6- inch) medium-ripe brie

1 tablespoon olive oil

Remove leaves from jar and pat dry. Cut out thick center stems. On work surface, overlap three or four leaves with stem edges in the center. Position cheese on the leaves, then pull edges up around the cheese. Overlap 3 more leaves on top and tuck edges under. Brush well with half the olive oil.

Tie with raffia or cotton kitchen string to make a neat package and hold leaves in place.

Store in refrigerator if not serving immediately.

To warm, heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Brush with remaining oil and place in skillet until leaves begin to brown and crisp and the cheese softens. Untie raffia and slightly open the package. Serve with crackers or a toasted baguette.

Note: Reserve remaining leaves for later by storing in resealable plastic bag in refrigerator up to two weeks or freezer up to two months . — Judith Dunbar Hines

Updated: March 7, 2014 1:23PM

“We have only frozen durian,” said the clerk at Super H Mart. Giggling, she added, “It has to be frozen. Otherwise, it smells bad.”

Durian is indeed a potent noseful of fruit.

With a smell somewhere between sulfur and sewage, durian is beloved by some, reviled by most. In India, I saw hotel signs that cautioned, “No dogs or durian allowed.”

It has a flavor like no other edible thing. Native to Southeast Asia, durian was described by Alfred Russel Wallace, who like Darwin scoured the world for unusual species, as being “rich custard, highly flavored with almonds.” Though not inaccurate, that mild description doesn’t begin to account for the snout-wallop delivered by fresh durian.

Durian fruit looks threatening as well: It’s big, oval, covered with sharp spikes. The word “durian” is derived from a Malaysian word meaning “thorn,” and the fruit usually is sold in mesh sacks to allow easy transport without ripping paper bags or flesh.

The pulp of the durian grows around the big seeds, and there isn’t much of it. The edible portion is maybe 25 percent of the whole fruit.

You can, of course, eat this fruit raw, but having enjoyed (yes) durian smoothies at St. Alp’s Teahouse (2131 S. Archer), we decided to toss our durian into a blender.

1. Cut open durian; don’t breath through nose.

2. Remove fruit, separate seeds and discard them.

3. Blend fruit with equal parts vanilla ice cream and milk.

Enjoy. Really. —David Hammond

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