Thursday, July 31, 2014

Shaved Ice (Bing-su)

This is just a super quick post to say you should go get yourself some shaved ice dessert, now!

It's summer time in Korea, this means it's bing-su (빙수) season. These days there are hundreds of different kinds and even entire restaurants dedicated to serving bing-su.

The classic is patbing-su (팥빙수) -- this is made with red beans, fruit (often canned fruit), malt flour (just a sprinkle), gummy candies (traditionally made from glutinous rice), sweetened condensed milk, and sometimes corn flakes or other cereal. The ice is on the bottom, with the toppings arranged over it. I always get them to leave out the sweetened condensed milk, of course, and it's certainly sweet enough without it. The beans are sweet, both naturally and prepared with sugar, so this is very much a dessert.

These days fruit bing-su (과일빙수) of various kinds are very popular. Many of these use milk instead of sweetened condensed milk, and so they are marketed to young ladies who want a healthy and low-calorie treat (no, I don't think milk is healthy, but the dairy marketers of the world have mostly convinced people it is). Either they will come with a selection of fresh fruit (perhaps including some canned or frozen fruit, too), or if you choose a single fruit (mango, blueberry, strawberry, kiwi), you may be resigning yourself to mostly frozen fruit and a syrup of the fruit flavor. Green tea bingsu (녹차빙수) is also quite popular.

Ornate bingsu options can include pieces of candy bars, scoops of ice cream, cookies, and really the sky is the limit. Bingsu in special bingsu restaurants are often made in a size appropriate for a couple to share and come in a large sloping bowl for a price of around 10,000 won (10 dollars). A classic red bean bingsu in the standard size will be around 5,000. It's also possible to find "cup bingsu" that are smaller servings and will cost a little less.

Most bakeries (such as Paris Baguette, Paris Croissant, and Tous les Jours) offer bing-su, as do some independent coffee shops.


These are just photos I found on the internet. If you waited for me to take a nice photo and then get around to resizing it, this blog would never be published. 

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