Wild Durians from Sarawak Rainforest


Durian ukak/ Durian pantan/Durian nyekak/buah pakan

Tropical forest fruits found in Sarawak like durians, dabai (jungle olives) and wild mangoes were so abundant that price for durian went down to RM 1 per durian and RM 8 per kg of dabai. There are a lot of information about cultivated durians but little is known about wild durians from the rainforest of Borneo. They are truly food of the nature which grow wild in the tropical forests of Sarawak.

Basically there are 5 varieties of jungle durians in Sarawak, namely durian ukak(durio kutejensis), durian isu(durio oxleyanus), durian isi merah(durio graveolens), durian kura-kura(durio testudinaran) and durian kulit merah(durio dulcis).

The more common ones are durian isu and durian ukak/Buah pakan. The other three are quite rare nowadays. Shown in the picture above is Durian Ukak aka Durian Nyekek aka Buah Pakan. Look at its fruitlet. How vivid is the orange color of the flesh ! It is firm like custard, almost free of durian worms all the time. Taste sweet and almost odorless.Durian ukak is said to be less ‘heaty’ than the regular durians which means it won’t cause much congestion of any kind in the body system. Its creamy  and  odorless aril is unique to taste.

Another type of jungle durian is durian isu aka durian isau. Durian Isu is a tiny and round shape durian, full of long thorns of length up to 2 cm. Look at the picture shown below.


Durian isu
Durian isu with long spikes

What do you see? Most durians have 5 lobes or chambers of a few fruitlet tucked inside while durian isu has only 4 lobes with only one or two fruitlet in each lobe. Durian Isu has orange coloured fruitlet too but the color is a bit dull. Some have yellow flesh. Durian isu has very distinctive odor  with thinner aril, tastes alcoholic and slightly bitter sweet. Some people like it and some like it not. In other words, it is an acquired taste. There are others who love both of them, i.e,durian ukak and durian isu.


                                       Durian isu

Many people, even the locals,get confused with these two durians. Local Chinese call these two durians ‘san durian’, meaning durians from the jungle. They may look similar but taste very different. The best way to identify durian ukak is by looking for its whiskers. It has whiskers growing at the base of the stalk or peduncle. Interesting , isn’t it? I mean who would expect durians having whiskers growing on their spiky skin?  The picture below may help to show the difference between the two.


Durian Ukak and Durian Isu
Durian Ukak and Durian Isu

There are three more varieties of jungle durians which are very rare, namely durian merah aka red-fleshed durian(durio graveolens), durian kulit merah aka red-skinned durian(durio dulcis) and durian kura-kura(durian testudinarum). The rarest of these three is the wild burning red skin durian(durio dulcis), most commonly found in Kalimantan. Durian merah looks exactly like durian isu except its fruit has crimson-coloured flesh. The taste is also similar, sweet, alcoholic with provoking smell. Durian kura-kura has fruits growing on its trunk or exposed roots instead of branches, just like some campedak trees .

Meanwhile, details of these rare durians will be kept for another article. As for now, enjoy durian ukak and durian isu, just by looking at the pictures. My next post will be on unripe durian and durian products like tempoyak and durian kueh, a kind of local durian toffee.

For the nutritional values of these wild durians, please click Table 1.


Durian ukak
Durian ukak with whiskers at the base of its peduncle                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
Durian merah/Riang Tutong which looks like big rambutan. Its shell is thick and has to be open by knife. Its Id is Durio Dulcis Becc. It becomes popular due to its exotic look rather than its taste.









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