Korean food: Bingsu


Bingsu (shaved ice with toppings) is a popular snack food found almost everywhere in Korea during the summer months. Lots of dessert businesses are coming up with more creative concoctions to delight their customers when bingsu becomes a name that can not miss in a menu. To beat the sweltering heat this summer, let’s indulge in some of these tasty treats known to be the best of the best! 

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The Classic – Patbingsu

Patbingsu via Wiki Travel

Believed to date back all the way to the Joseon Dynasty, the original bingsu was simple, served as finely broken ice chips topped with sweetened red bean porridge. The beans sit aloft a mound of thinly shaved ice chips flavored with a mixture of milk or condensed milk. Finishing with a garnish of choice, such as nuts and seeds, these toppings giving the bingsu texture as well as nutritional supplements. The most popular bingsus found are those topped with misutgaru (roasted rice and grain powder) or served with generous pieces of chewy rice cake, completing a flavorful taste sensation.

Refreshing ‘Fruit-full’ Bingsu

Strawberry milk bingsu via maylambingsu.com

Today, many bingsus shy away from the predominantly red bean taste and some even omit the red beans altogether. This modification is especially welcomed by those who cannot eat red beans (also known as pat in Korean). The fruit toppings, whether freshly diced or added with honey and syrup, go so well with shaved ice, they make a perfect combination that will have you craving more. Some bingsus are specialized in a single flavor such as mango or strawberry, but if you like a little taste of all, mix choices are also available.

Healthier Just By Looking

For the health-conscious, choosing which dessert to order might be a bit of a struggle. But have no fear as some bingsus are prepared with comparatively mild flavors, topped with generous chunks of sweet pumpkin, jujube or almond, filling enough to be consumed as a light meal. These delicacies are even served in a beautiful brass or porcelain bowl, adding a tinge of traditional charm, favored equally by both young and older generations. While the sweet pumpkin bingsu does contain red beans, it is also topped with a generous portion of healthy ingredients such as gugija (barbary wolfberry fruit), yulmu (Job’s tear), odi (mulberry fruit) and more, making for a mild taste that it particularly popular among the older clienteles. The dish can be enjoyed after pouring soy milk over the shaved ice, bringing out the nutty flavors of the toppings.

Unique Bingsus With New Tastes

Cherry Blossom Bingsu via English Instagram 

From the traditional red beans to complex mixes of ice cream and fruits, bingsus can easily be found in almost any coffee shop or bakery in Korea. However, there are even more unique bingsus that are only found in some, such as cacao bingsu, snowflake milk bingsu, cherry blossom bingsu, or popcorn bingsu. These uniquely named bingsus are attracting a lot of attention from the young generations, as they are not only visually appealing but taste heavenly too!

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