Korean Noms – Bingsu

Every year, Korean temperatures steadily rise during the summer months. This rise in mercury coincides with the rise of a popular icy dessert that Koreans use to battle the summer heat: Bingsu. All across the Korean peninsula cafes, coffee shops, and restaurants start putting out advertisements for this popular dish on storefronts, sidewalks, billboards, and even music videos. If you haven’t caught on yet after watching that Paris Baguette sponsored video, bingsu is kind of a big deal.

 



 

01So what is this summer desert? This dessert dates back to the days of long gone Korean dynasties when ice was first being used. To fight the summer heat, royal courts would make a dish of shaved ice flakes and top it with sweet red beans. Over the years, this frozen treat has come in and out of favor among Koreans, but lately its popularity is thriving. Back with a vengeance, bingsu now frequently includes coconut milk, ice cream, gummy snacks, cereals, berries, and countless other toppings. Regardless of the variety you choose, there will always be a bed of quickly melting snow at the bottom of your bowl and 90% of the time you’ll find sweet red beans included. While we were initially apprehensive about Korea’s fondness for sweet red beans and bean paste, it’s surprisingly good in both texture and flavor.

Our first year in Korea only saw bingsu a few times. We hadn’t quite warmed to the smorgasbord of flavors and textures that almost guarantee a brain freeze, but now we seek out this popular Korean dessert any time we find ourselves just too uncomfortable from the summer’s heat. The popular bakery/coffee chains all carry some variety of bingsu and many restaurants offer it as an option for desert, so it’s never too difficult to find when the craving starts. Although Korean traditions typically include eating hot food to match your body’s state to its environment, this dessert certainly goes the opposite direction with a blast of icy relief on a hot and humid day.

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Ryan

Want to see more dessert and food reviews? Let us know in the comments below!

7 thoughts on “Korean Noms – Bingsu

  1. Lindsay @ The Neverending Wanderlust says:

    What a perfect title for your post!! I even said nomnomnom in my head while reading it^^ Nice to see that it took you a ‘minute’ to warm up to bingsu, as I am slow to jump on the bandwagon as well. I must admit, though–If there is chocolate brownie bites and chocolate sauce, I quickly become a willing participant!

    Thanks for sharing your post ^^ Lovely writing and photos as usual!

    • Hedgers Abroad says:

      Actually, there are a few places doing chocolate cookie ones. I think DropTop has one, but I’m not sure. Not sure about your area, but Yeosu has quite a few dessert shops that specialize in bingsu and have a bunch of cake and chocolate ones- places like Snow Witch and BingBingCafe. Look around, I’m sure you’ll find your new summer addiction 😉

  2. Duke Stewart says:

    I remember 4 years ago when it was just Bingsu and now, it seems like every flavor under the sun is available! Thanks to dietary restrictions (lactose), we can’t really get into the Bingsu craze but can attest to a couple of bosses shoving the stuff down my throat during a Norae session or three. Great post! Will have to hit up one of Yeosu’s many fine Bingsu establishments in the near future!

    • Rafiqua says:

      I agree with remembering only the original “pat bingsu”. I really didn’t like it…and it took me a while to warm up to the original bingsu, after I tasted the delicious flavors that became trendy in late 2013 (such as mango cheesecake).

      I remember first discovering Baskin Robbins’s ice cream bingsu…nomnomnom

    • Hedgers Abroad says:

      I think that the “extravagant” bingsu started around the time we got here but many of our first attempts were pat bingsu as well. Korea has certainly upped its bingsu game in the last 4 years or so. Now it’s essentially a bunch of different sweets that would appeal to anyone instead of previously only appealing to those with a taste for red beans. Winning!

  3. Wendy Flor says:

    My friends and I got a choco-covered bingsu at Leonida’s. ITWas sinful!

    In my country, we have our own version. We call it halo-halo. It’s almost the same but of course, i like my country’s version better:-)

    • Hedgers Abroad says:

      Oh interesting! We didn’t try it while we were in the Philippines, but we will now when we’re back next time! How is it different and why do you like it so much better?

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