Holy ddong, this is by far the hottest summer I’ve experienced in Korea. News reports are saying that it’s one of the hottest, and it seems like it’s going to last a while… Ah!! All I want to do is stay indoors where the temperatures are more bearable. Just the thought of doing anything outside in this sweltering heat makes me want to crawl inside my fridge. So with all the heat these days, I thought it would be fun to share my favorite cold treat! Not ice cream, not frozen yogurt, not frozen popsicles…. Patbingsu!
Without a doubt, this is the most ubiquitous Korean summer treat. I remember this was pretty popular during my high school years, and then it kind of went out of style. And then all of a sudden, these past few years, there has been a total patbingsu revival, and now practically every cafe and bakery has this on their summer menu. However, the only downside about buying patbingsu is the price! At most cafes, a decent sized bowl will cost around 8,000 won or more. And that can add up if you’re a patbingsu lover such as myself. Not to mention, most store-bought patbingsu’s are not vegan with dairy ice cream or condensed milk poured in.
So to remedy this problem, I have resorted to making my own patbingsu at home, and waddya know, it’s soooo easy! Most people think they need to get a special ice shaver to get flaky ice shavings, but it’s really not necessary because you can use a food processor instead! And besides, who has the extra kitchen counter space for yet another appliance?
Aside from the shaved ice (bingsu), the only real required ingredient is the sweet red bean, “pat” (hence the name ‘pat’ bingsu), but you can also make a fruit bingsu without any beans. If you want to go the extra mile, you can make your own sweetened red bean filing, but I just bought the canned stuff from the store… don’t judge, hehe. It tends to be on the sweeter side, so when I have time, I’ll probably make my own where I can adjust the sugar content. Some other popular toppings include fruit, ddeok, toasted bean powder, jellies, corn flakes, nuts, and ice cream. What’s great is that there are so many variations of patbingsu, from the basic and minimalistic, to the ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ style. You make it the way you want!
What you need:
1 tray of ice cubes
2 heaping spoonfuls of sweetened red bean (pat)
1/2 cup non dairy milk (I used soy milk)
toppings of your choosing
2. Pulse several times until there are no more large chunks of ice remaining. You can tell it’s done when you can’t hear any ice cubes clattering about. In the end, you get something that resembles snow or shaved ice! Tadaaa~
3. Scrape out the processed ice into a serving bowl. Spoon some ‘pat’ onto the ice and add all your favorite toppings. For this particular patbingsu, I used pat, fresh peaches, chopped almonds, and a few banana slices.
*Tip 1* Make sure the ice cubes are sufficiently frozen, or you’ll just get a slurry mess when you try to process them.
*Tip 2* Add some green tea powder with the ice cubes into the processor, and you’ll get green-tea flavored ice cubes, which pairs great with the sweetened red beans.
*Tip 3* This takes some planning-ahead, but you can pour soy milk or almond milk straight into the ice cube tray, let it freeze, and then pulse those in the processor. That way, when it starts melting, you’ll get a more flavorful, milky soup.