Korean red bean shaved ice is my ALL-TIME FAVORITE dessert! This colorful icy treat always brings me back to my childhood in Korea. It is such a refreshing summer dessert and one of my favorite Korean street foods!
Some people may not consider this to be a street food, but I remember getting it from street vendors as a kid! This style of patbingsu isn’t made that much anymore with the popularity of injeolmi and other types of shaved ice that are more like ‘snow.’ The only places I have been able to find it easily are street vendors or spas.
My first time back in Korea as an adult, I asked my cousins to take me to get patbingsu. But everywhere we went, I couldn’t find the kind I was looking for. I was told it is now called “yaetnal patbingsu” which means old school patbingsu, and not many people eat it like that anymore.
We were able to find one bingsu shop that actually had it, but they were closed. I gave up on searching and resorted to the ice cream section at the corner store that had a pre-packaged patbingsu cup. But as I was walking through Nampodong in Busan, I found a whole bunch of tiny street carts with vendors making the old school patbingsu! My cravings were satisfied at last.
What is patbingsu?
‘Pat’ means sweet red beans and ‘bingsu’ is shaved ice. The red beans are mixed with the shaved ice with a drizzle of condensed milk and some toppings like fruit, candy, mochi, and cheesecake bites.
These days, bingsu is made with a much finer shaved ice- they call it “snow” and it is very light and fluffy. Sometimes it is even made from frozen milk instead of water. It’s good, but I actually prefer a more coarse shaved ice for the texture. Maybe it’s because I’m too used to the old school bingsu. Back in the day, the shaved ice wasn’t as fine as it is today.
I’ve been trying to think of how to describe the taste of red bean shaved ice but it’s so hard to describe. For me personally, the taste and textures instantly bring me back to my childhood and I think that’s why I love it so much. It’s not overly sweet, its healthier than most desserts and its extremely refreshing during the hot & humid summers in Korea. I have such fond memories of eating this icy treat with my friends and family.
Ice- the old school patbingsu was made with coarser shaved ice than the newer ‘snow’ type of finely shaved ice. You can make it with finely shaved ice if you prefer, but the traditional way is better in my opinion because you get a icy/crunchy texture that is so good with mixed with sweet red beans and condensed milk.
Bingsu tteok– this ingredient is an absolute MUST for me. If bingsu doesn’t have tteok in it, I don’t even want it. These little mochi bites are my favorite bingsu topping, and they are VERY easy to make if you can’t find the packaged kind!
Fruits– you can use any fruit you like. All kinds of fruits are used for patbingsu, but my favorites are strawberry, kiwi, banana, and blueberry.
Condensed milk- you can also use whole milk, but I prefer condensed milk because whole milk tends to make the ice melt much faster, and isn’t as sweet.
Jelly candies- this is optional! I remember seeing these in my bingsu a lot when I was growing up. Sometimes my Korean market has them but they are really hard to find these days. I don’t usually miss them, so I don’t even look for them anymore,
Tools & ingredients, and where to get them
Ice shaver– can you believe I have had my ice shaver for over 20 years? I loved patbingsu so much as a kid that we bought an ice shaver so I could make it at home. I still have it and it still works! What I really love about my ice shaver is that there is a dial so you can choose how fine or coarse your ice is shaved.
If you don’t have an ice shaver, you can use a food processor. Just pulse until you get the right consistency. You can also buy this one from Amazon.
Sweet red beans- I have never made this from scratch because it is always available to me in cans, and they are good. You should be able to find sweet red beans at any Asian supermarket. The one that I like is pictured above.
Bingsu tteok- mochi for patbingsu is sold in small packages, but I’ve noticed they are getting harder and harder to find. That section in my local Hmart always seems to be empty. I got lucky and found a pack recently, so you can see a picture of it above- there is another brand that makes them as well but they are white and not multi colored.
In case they aren’t available to you or you can’t find it, I’ve provided a super easy recipe for you to make it from scratch. You will need:
Glutinous rice flour
How to make bingsu tteok
There are a couple ways you can make this, and I’m going to show you the easiest way. Bingsu tteok can be made in the microwave in just 4 minutes!
All you need to do is mix together glutinous rice flour (also known as sweet rice flour), water, sugar, and a drop of vinegar. Microwave for 4 minutes, then let it cool completely before dusting all over with potato starch. Cut into strips, then into little cubes and give it one final potato starch dust to that they are no longer sticky on the outside . Shake off any excess starch and that’s it!
Korean Red Bean Shaved Ice- 팥빙수 (Patbingsu)
- 2 cups ice
- 3 tbsp condensed milk
- 1/3 cup sweet red beans
- 3 tbsp strawberries
- 3 tbsp banana
- 3 tbsp blueberries
- 1 kiwi
- 3 tbsp bingsu tteok (mochi) recipe below
For the bingsu tteok
- 3/4 cup glutinous rice flour (sweet rice flour)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 drop of vinegar
- 1/4 cup potato starch or corn, tapioca starch
To make the bingsu tteok:
- In a 8x8 microwave safe glass container, mix together 3/4 cup glutinous rice flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 3/4 cup water, and 1 drop of vinegar. Note: The vinegar makes the bingsu tteok soft & chewy. You will not taste it.
- Mix until smooth, do not leave any lumps.
- Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 4 minutes. The time may vary depending on the strength of your microwave, so keep an eye on it.
- Remove the plastic wrap and let it cool completely.
- Dust the top with some potato starch.
- Pry the sides off of the glassware using a spatula, then pull it out and dust the other side with potato starch.
- Cut into strips, then into cubes.
- Dust every piece in potato starch so that they are not sticky on the outside anymore. Shake off the excess and store in an air tight container for up to 3 days.
- Cut the strawberries, kiwi, and banana into small pieces.
- Shave 2 cups of ice using a coarse setting. If you don't have an ice shaver, you can use a food processor. Pulse until the ice is shaved to your desired consistency.
- Drizzle half of the condensed milk over the shaved ice
- Top with sweet red bean, fruits, bingsu tteok, and the rest of the condensed milk.
- Serve right away- you can mix it up like this or eat it as is. I always mix mine 🙂