▲ For a nice summer treat make your own patbingsu to beat the heat. Photo by Kimberly Comeau
10-15 ice cubes ½-1 tsp green tea powder ¼ cup milk 1 scoop of your favorite ice cream ¼ cup of cereal (I used honey corn flakes) ½ cup fruit cocktail 1-2 kiwi fruits, chopped into small triangles ½ cup watermelon, chopped into cubes ¼ cup injeolmi (rice marshmallow) ¼ cup red bean adjuki sherbet A pinch of mitsigaru (bean powder)
* Note: The fun thing about this recipe is that you can alter the topping ingredients, fruits, or ice cream to whatever you think would be tasty – be creative!
If you go into a larger supermarket, it will have all the packaged ingredients displayed out in one aisle so there is little to no confusion when you are shopping.
1. In case you do not have an ice shaver, you can use a blender. First, crush ice and then blend the ice together with green tea powder, milk, and syrup.
2. Separately arrange fruit in sections on top of ice mixture, leaving space for the red bean sherbet and cereal.
3. Add the red bean sherbet and cereal.
4. Put the green tea ice cream on top of the dessert.
5. Sprinkle rice cake marshmallows around the dish.
* Note: Be careful when blending the ice with the milk to not make it too “soupy” – traditionally just shaved ice is used, but that can be difficult without an actual ice shaver available.
This dish has several steps but is easy to make. Of course, if you don’t have air conditioning and it is the middle of summer, it can be problematic. To get around this, chill all ingredients like fruit and red bean sherbet before you start, and then eat it immediately after being prepared.
According to The Korea Times, traditionally, patbingsu consisted of only two or three ingredients; red beans (pat), rice cake, ground nut powder, and of course the shaved ice (bingsu). The Korea Herald states that this dessert may date back to the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897). Seobingo – the government office in charge of the “ice boxes” – would share it only with fellow officials who would enjoy it as a dessert.
Over time and with influence from the West during the Korean war (1950-1952), people started to add different ingredients like fruit, nuts, cereal, syrups, ice cream, and whipped cream. Refrigeration was rare in Korea until the late 1960s, and until then blocks of ice from frozen rivers were stored in saw dust until the warmer weather to make this treat. Shaved ice desserts have been popular for centuries in Asia, but the concept of red beans as a topping was invented by Koreans.
Because patbingsu has a lot of fresh fruit, it can be considered a healthy dessert. As it is a dish meant to be shared, moderate amounts can be consumed. Of course, there are other ingredients such as jellies and syrups that have a high sugar content, so go light on these. Everyone should try patbingsu at least once in their lives, especially if in Korea.
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