Saturday, 14 June 2014

The Hunt for Red Prawn - A Durian Excursion to Penang



Season's greetings...durian season that is! My greed for $500 Jetstar travel vouchers spurred me to write this little piece for the August 2013 edition of the magazine. Therefore please forgive the marketing spiel at the start- it does get a little better :) Travel date was same time last year - if you book 
ahead they arrange buffets as well!

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Some friends and I recently made a weekend trip to Penang with Jetstar. We were pleasantly surprised to be assigned front seats despite the full passenger load! 

Landing promptly, we made a beeline for the local grub the island is renowned for.  The delights we sampled read like a roll-call of Penang’s culinary highlights; curry mee (noodles in spicy curry broth), char kuay teow (fried kuay teow), hokkien mee (prawn noodles), assam laksa (noodles in sour fish broth) and nasi kandar (curry and side dishes on rice).
 
Nasi Kandar

Ais Kacang

Char Kuay Teow


The pièce de résistance of our trip, however, was an excursion the following day to Balik Pulau to eat durian. More than any other fruit, durian perhaps arouses the most conflicting and unequivocal of emotions; the ‘king of fruits’ to some, ‘road kill wrapped in sweaty socks’ to others. Clearly, we belonged to the former camp, as the ride took about 3 hours with some wrong turns.

Perched on the hillside, the nondescript entrance to Bao Sheng durian farm is easily overlooked. Down a steep incline, a roomy shed shelters some benches, where one can sit and savour the farm’s offerings whilst admiring the view of the lush valley below. The owner, Mr Chang, talks of durian the way a seasoned winemaker talks of wine-making. The age of the tree, the angle of its slope, the direction and intensity of sunlight, to name but a few factors, combined with the expert knowledge and experience of the durian grower produced the magnificent specimens we sampled, namely the legendary ‘Red Prawn’ (which put Penang on durian connoisseurs’ maps) and ‘Green Skin’ varietals. 
Red Prawn Durian

All in all, it was a very ‘fruitful’ trip! 

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