How Tekka Durians Came To Be Known As Musang Queen
The tekka durian is one of those cultivars that flies under the radar while the more popular ones grab all the attention.
But then it quietly has a loyal following who would not rate any other types of durian, including musang king, above it.
In fact, the tekka is often affectionately known as the musang queen.
That says a lot about how highly revered this particular cultivar is in the minds of it’s fans.
This musang queen nickname comes from a passing comment made by the former Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib when eating tekka. Marketers then jumped on the bandwagon and rode the wave without looking back.
The word “tekka” is actually not a mandarin word, but a hokkien dialect word. With “tek” translated as bamboo, and “ka” meaning leg.
This durian also has the pet names tracka, bamboo leg and also goes by the moniker zhu jiao (竹脚) in Chinese. It is also sometimes referred to as green bamboo (绿竹) pronounced as lu zhu.
It has no relation to the geographic area of the same name in Singapore where it is often sold.
It’s official call sign is D160 in the registrar of Malaysian crops.
The origins story takes us back to the 1980s in the small town of Tanjung Sepat in Selangor when a farmer realized that the fruits of one of his durian trees were turning out to be something special. Some would say that the location is actually Banting which is next to Tanjung Sepat.
It is said that Tekka was a wild durian seedling no taller than 4 feet that grew on it’s own and was discovered by the elder Mr Lim among a cluster of bamboo plants. He had a liking of bringing wild seedlings into his farm to nurture them. Little did he know that it would become a bonafide superstar in the future.
The original mother tree has since succumbed to nature and the oldest tekka tree in existence today is about 50 years old.
These days, it is found in plantations across various states including Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Johor, etc.
Feature of Tekka durians
Tekkas tend to come in considerable size that looks bulky and oval shaped.
A single whole durian of the bigger range can easily weigh over 3kg. The biggest I’ve seen with my own eyes was about 5 freaking kilograms!
However, the oval is just an expression as the fruit don’t come in perfect oval. The bottom of the husk is usually noticeably tighter than the top.
It may resemble the shape of kidney beans to some observers.
And the “navel” where the seams meet at the bottom tend to be protruding and some people would describe it as pointed. It won’t be able to stand upright on it’s own without falling over.
Because of the top portion usually being wider than the lower portion of the fruit, coupled with the pointy navel, some immaculately shaped fruits can look like an arrowhead pointing downwards.
The colour of the husk is sort of a mesh-up of green and brown. It’s a dull shade that cannot be considered anywhere near bright or pastel.
If a soldier wearing camouflaged uniform is hiding behind tekka durians, the chances are that you would see the soldier but will not see the durians… unless he start prying it open to eat it uncontrollably of course.
The concave thorns of this big boy can look huge, which is understandable as it’s a large-sized species.
However, if we are to look at it from a scientifically proportionate perspective, these spikes are comparable to black thorn, but packed more closely together compared to musang king. Yet they are not as compact as what you see on other durians with closely positioned spikes such as D24.
The spikes also look like spherical cones liken to ice cream cones flipped upside-down.
At the crown where the spikes on the husk meets the stem, thorns start to curve towards the stem. Making it a hazardous part of the fruit which people should be careful of when handling via the stem.
At the bottom where the seams open, the seams are not very obvious, and the seams would probably turn out right on the spikes as well.
This means that when you crank open this bad boy, you would be able to see various spikes that have been split open into halves.
While other durians can also have this feature, tekka tends to be more hardcore into it.
The stem is average long like most of the premium cultivars.
The seams on this durian can be curved and hooked. So do be cautious when opening it to avoid hurting yourself in a durian accident.
Often times, you won’t be able to cleanly crank it open nicely. It’s one of the toughest durians to open. The odds are that the husk would break from your forceful pulling while the inner seams remain strongly intact like being held together by industrial superglue.
I’ve seen people hack at it with a machete or chopper out of frustration while mumbling words and phrases that will never get published in newspapers. It’s as if they are trying to kill something that wouldn’t die. Then smile with delight once the thorny fruit decides that it has had enough fun with the patron and opens up to reveal it’s inner beauty.
If you are unable to identify tekka durians when they are unopen, the most unique feature of this variety reveals itself when open.
This is the ridge or seam situated at the center of the durian. It resembles a drain filled with residue with the colour of the durian flesh itself. Black thorn also shares this characteristic.
I call this as residue as I have never tried to consume it. But there’s nothing stopping others from licking and sucking that part if they want to. This segment of the fruit is also often referred to as the red heart.
Often times after you open it, you’ll find that the fruitlets are deeply lodged in the husk requiring you to dig it out. Partly because you were not able to open the fruit in a textbook perfect manner. So you might not be able to tell how thick the flesh is until you coax it out of the cocoon.
The fruitlet itself has an inviting yellow creamy colour and carries a puffy look that makes you drool with anticipation.
The skin membrane standing between you and the flesh looks amazing smooth by durian standards and you’d be forgiven to be reminded of botox. It sometimes make me think about my fingertips after an hour at the swimming pool.
If you are bold enough to put the whole fruitlet into your mouth, you’d not only realise that you have a big mouth, but also that the seed is of a smaller size compared to other durians. Definitely below average.
The creamy meat itself has a sweet strong flavour with a hint of bittersweet. Couple this with it’s mesmerizing but far from overpowering aroma, it’s no surprise that this is a popular favorite among cultured durian lovers.
It is one of those varieties where you don’t want to swallow immediately. Let it mush around in your mouth while you savour the complexity of flavours with every part of your tongue.
The bitterness is complex enough that I cannot find descriptive words that will do it justice. It is definitely a different manner of bitterness with a hint of floral finesse. You will have to try it to find out for yourself what I mean.
It is also noticeable that you would be able to sense the complexity of the flavours as quickly as you can put in your mouth. Much faster than other cultivars with complex tastes like jinfeng. It’s as if the flesh comes alive when devoured.
And it will take you to the promise land if you allow it to.
Just be prepared to discover some taste buds that you didn’t know you’ve always had.
Tekka in top form can rival any other top cultivars, and even trump them. I’ve met more than a handful of durianers who rate it as one of their top two favourites.
A lot of times when the fruitlets have an appearance that’s a little soggy wet, gooey and mushy, the flavour can be much more intense. A moist looking inner chamber is a dead giveaway. It’s a result of the natural fermentation process. But this look can lead many to be skeptical of it’s quality and refuse to eat it. If you cannot be sure whether to eat it or not, just listen to your gut. I’m not going to push you off the edge on this one.
Bigger green bamboos tend to have ripeness issues and come with a layer of harder fiber within the flesh. Which can be annoying to some. If you don’t know what this means, just take a look at what you are left with on the seed when you finish stuffing all the flesh into your mouth.
Anyway, when you get tekka, you are not going for high yield. People long for this durian for it’s finesse. If you want yield, chanee is waiting for you all over the place.
It is sometimes said that for some weird reason, the taste of tekka lingers so stubbornly in the mouth that even a powerful musang king would not be able to “cover” it when eaten later. This is why it can proclaim the title of the queen.
I can recall at least 3 instances where my taste buds went numb and other varieties tasted like flavourless yoghurt. It’s like having your tongue hijacked for a good few minutes.
The level of aroma and flavour is just at the right level to thrill your senses instead of all-conquering.
This feature can be apparent when newbies who have started on musang kings try tekka durians, they might find that the latter lacks a punch.
But the reality as the veterans would insist, is that if you start off with a dish that is too salty, every dish after that would taste bland.
The implication is that if you are buying durians as gifts to elderly hosts who appreciates the fruit, tekka might impress them more than the more popular ones.
I often find myself burping more after having tekka compared to other durians. This could be due to it containing more gas or that I have a weird digestive relationship with this particular cultivar. Anyway, this burping could suit you nicely if you are one of those who likes to continue tasting the durian hours after consuming it. 😀
This is also not a durian you want to leave overnight in the refrigerator. The taste will most likely turn very different from what it was when fresh.
Tekka harvest season
Tekka supply generally peaks in August. With early harvest starting to trickle in from the end of July.
Even though they don’t have a huge supply comparable to mao shan wang, they are not as rare as black thorn too.
The problem with moist fermentation and ripeness issue mentioned earlier are 2 big reasons why many farm owners will not commit too much of their land to cultivate it even though the trees are generally known to be a resilient breed. As a business, why take on such a risk when there are more economically safer options like MSW?
The best quality tekkas tend to be congregated in Kuala Lumpur as the old tree inventory makes the short trip to the capital city.
And you can be sure that a lot of consumers in-the-know will make early reservations with their favourite sellers. Many sellers even keep the best ones as a “reward” for their most loyal customers.
The price of tekka usually hovers slightly lower than musang king at around $15 to $23 per kilogram. Seldom going above the king (if ever).
For those who prefer the yin-yang balance of tekka rather than the in-your-face nature of musang king, this pricing offers great value for money.
And if the large looking fruit is too tempting to conquer that you have to buy the whole thing home to gut it yourself, just remember to follow some of the proven ways to choose one that is ripe.