a bowl of south korean patbingsu topped with condensed milk and a mint leaf

What is South Korean Patbingsu?

Origin: South Korea

Type: Shaved Ice Dessert

Main Flavours: Condensed Milk, Fresh Fruits

About Patbingsu

Patbingsu is a popular South Korean shaved ice dessert that is both refreshing and indulgent. It starts with a base of finely shaved ice, which is then topped with a variety of ingredients such as sweetened red beans, condensed milk, and fresh fruits. Patbingsu can be customised with an array of toppings to suit any taste, making it a versatile treat for hot summers.

See below for our recipe

What Zsófi Says About Patbingsu

South Korea’s most popular dessert, Patbingsu, roughly translates to red bean ice flakes, which is a very apt name for the wonderful medley of shaved ice and condensed milk, topped with sweet red beans and rice cakes that this dish entails. Served from May to October every year to cool down the masses, Patbingsu dates back to the Joseon Dynasty. 

For lack of refrigeration in an average household, ice in South Korea used to be a luxury available only to a privileged few, which usually meant government officials who, exploiting their access to the royal ice box, would enjoy ice bowls topped with fruit and honey in the summer. As refrigerating appliances became more and more widely accessible in the 20th century, ice became more accessible in many less privileged households around the country, giving freeway to the spread of ice desserts, of which Patbingsu gained the most renown.

At its genesis, Bingsu was used to refer to a bowl of shaved ice topped with sweet red beans and rice cakes. The addition of the now necessary condensed milk was actually due to the Korean War in which there was an influx of US soldiers into the country who brought… condensed milk with them for some reason. In any case, this American import became an integral part of the dessert as we know it today, making it a richer and sweeter dish which proved a fertile basis for the inspired addition of many other toppings such as different kinds of jelly, fruit, syrups, and even ice cream on top of the shaved ice and condensed milk mixture. 

Nowadays, you can even find varieties like matcha bingsu and strawberry bingsu – and much like Pokémon, I’ve gotta have them all!

Read Zsófi’s full article on shaved ice desserts!

Patbingsu Recipe

Patbingsu Ingredients

What you’ll need to make Patbingsu:

  • Shaved ice (the best shaved ice comes from a shaved ice machine, but if you don’t have one at home you can put ice in a strong blender or put it in a bag and smash it with a rolling pin)
  • Pat / Sweetened red beans (you will most likely find these in an asian supermarket)
  • Condensed milk
  • Optional topping: fresh fruit (popular choices are strawberry or mango)

Patbingsu Instructions

Make the shaved ice using your chosen method. If it’s a hot day, keep it in the fridge whilst you prepare your other ingredients, or prepare the other ingredients first (don’t put it back into the freezer because it will freeze back into one big lump!).

Place a generous amount of shaved ice into a serving bowl, spoon the pat (sweetened red beans) over the top, then drizzle with condensed milk. Add chopped pieces of fresh fruit on top, then serve immediately!

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