Durian is most commonly and best enjoyed fresh immediately upon opening the fruit. Some people regard refrigeration of durian sections before eating to be an enhancement
Durian can be made into an excellent ice cream, or a cold milk shake. As a blender ingredient, though, it seems the king of fruits does not mix well with lesser commoners.
The distinct durian flavor usually dominates, and in some cases mixing with other fruits accentuates the garlicky component of durian in unfavorable ways.
However, other fruits with sufficiently strong flavor, notably coconut and to a lesser extent pineapple, do blend well with durian, and make a good smoothie together, and no doubt there are some excellent exotic blends of durian and other fruits waiting to be discovered by modern tropical kitchen adventurers (eggfruit? champedak?).
One known harmonious flavor with durian is coffee. Drinking coffee while eating durian is quite pleasant, and a durian-flavored gourmet coffee would be an exotic treat.
Durian makes a very good "dried" fruit—actually in Southeast Asia it is not really dried but cooked down for hours into a thick sweet paste which keeps well for a long time.
When unripe, durian can be cooked like a vegetable — including frying unripe slices just like potato chips to make uncommonly good durian snack chips.
A popular delicious dessert treat in Thailand (approximately pronounced "Khao Nam Ka Tea Turian"), often sold from roadside cart vendors, is a cup of sweet sticky rice flooded with a very sweet thin syrup of the juice of fresh coconut blended with a little fresh durian, sweetened with sugar cane juice.
Malaysia is famous in Southeast Asia for its durian dodol; they call it a cake, but it’s more like a tasty, slightly spongy, brown congealed cooked (or baked?) mass of durian, coconut flower water, coconut milk, palm sugar, and glutinous rice.
Also in Singapore, where most people love durians and large quantities are imported from Malaysia and Thailand, can be found the world-famous Four Seasons Durian Dessert Shop (located at 51 Telok Ayer Street, #01-21/22, China Square Food Centre, Singapore 048441, tel 532-7576, fax 532-0696). This shop is a durian gourmet's paradise. Everything on the menu is made with durian — and exquisitely so.
In lands where they are abundant, there is much commercial creativity with durians...
"Durians are sold whole, or cut open and divided into segments, which are wrapped in clear plastic. The flesh is mostly eaten fresh, often out-of-hand. It is best after being well chilled in a refrigerator. Sometimes it is simply boiled with sugar or cooked in coconut water, and it is a popular flavoring for ice cream. Javanese prepare the flesh as a sauce to be served with rice; they also combine the minced flesh with minced onion, salt and diluted vinegar as a kind of relish; and they add half-ripe arils to certain dishes. Arabian residents prefer to mix the flesh with ice and sirup. In Palembang, the flesh is fermented in earthen pots, sometimes smoked, and eaten as a special sidedish. Durian flesh is canned in sirup for export. It is also dried for local use and export. Blocks of durian paste are sold in the markets. In Bangkok much of the paste is adulterated with pumpkin. Malays preserve the flesh in salt in order to keep it on hand the year around to eat with rice, even though it acquires a very strong and, to outsiders, most disagreeable odor. The unripe fruit is boiled whole and eaten as a vegetable. The seeds are eaten after boiling, drying, and frying or roasting .... (though) believed to possess a toxic property that causes shortness of breath ... In Java, the seeds may be sliced thin and cooked with sugar as a confection; or dried and fried in coconut oil with spices for serving as a side-dish. Young leaves and shoots are occasionally cooked as greens. Sometimes the ash of the burned rind is added to special cakes (...) The odor of the flesh is believed to be linked to indole compounds which are bacteriostatic. Eating durian is alleged to restore the health of ailing humans and animals." —Dr. Julia Morton, from Fruits of Warm Climates