Bingsu is a Korean shaved ice treat. You can easily make a quick version with canned red beans, but the sweet red beans are easy to make at home. Either way, it will certainly cool your body down on hot summer days.
Nothing says summer more than bingsu (빙수) in Korea! It’s a shaved ice dessert with various sweet toppings. While there are infinite variations, one topping that’s in most of the variations is sweetened red beans, called pat (팥). Whether you choose store-bought sweetened red beans or homemade from scratch, patbingsu (팥빙수) is a delicious summer treat!
In Korea, many popular patbingsu places make their bingsu simply with pat (red beans) and tteok (떡, rice cake). That’s exactly how I like it, but feel free to load it up! Try it with your favorite fruits, ice cream, cookies, and/or anything else you want. Green tea powder, roasted grain powder (misugaru, 미수가루), and nuts are also popular.
Hope you make some bingsu at home this summer. Indulge in it and feel your whole body cool down on a hot summer day!
How to make bingsu
Making bingsu at home is pretty easy if you have an electric ice shaver. It’s relatively inexpensive. Imagine having bingsu anytime you want on hot summer days without traveling to Korea or not having to pay $12 for it if you have a place near you.
As an alternative, use a blender or a food processor if it has an ice shaving or crunching blade.
Regular ice is typical, but in Korea, shaved ice milk has become popular in recent years. Simply, freeze some milk and shave it.
For a quick and easy version, you can use pre-made, canned sweetened red beans. However, nothing beats homemade red beans that are made with good quality beans and sweetened to your taste.
Sweetened red beans (pat)
The most important ingredient in patbingsu is obviously the pat, the red bean topping. These red beans, aka adzuki beans, are tiny and have a white ridge on one side. You can find dried red beans at Korean/Asian markets.
Cooking the red beans is easy, but it takes time as they need to be slow cooked. Soaking the beans is not necessary. The cooked beans should be soft, mostly intact, and moderately sweet.
I usually cook one pound (about 2 cups) at a time. It may seem like a lot, but when you spend time cooking them. you might as well make enough to have bingsu a few times. Or, puree the leftover (or pass it through a sieve) and make danpatjuk (단팥죽), sweet red bean porridge – another popular sweet treat in Korea.
How to cook adzuki beans in the Instant Pot
If you have an Instant Pot or any other pressure cooker, it’s much faster. To cook the red beans in the Instant Pot, bring the beans to a boil with 4 cups of water on the Sauté function and continue to boil 5 minutes. Drain off the water, and add 6 cups of fresh water. Cook on Manual High Pressure for 20 minutes. Release after 10 min. Add the salt, sugar, and honey and cook on Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, gently stirring. Cool before using.
Sweet rice cake (injeolmi)
Patbingsu is usually topped with injeolmi (인절미), a type of rice cake (tteok) made with sweet rice powder. Fresh injeolmi from your Korean market will be great for bingsu. Some Korean markets also carry frozen rice cake pieces made for bingsu.
However, you can try making a simple version with sweet rice powder (chapssalgaru, 찹쌀가루) in the microwave as I’m showing here.
You can dust the rice cake pieces with corn starch or roasted soybean powder (konggaru, 콩가루) Koreans make injeolmi with. Sweet rice cake is sticky, so the powder makes it easier to handle, but not necessary. Just wet everything — your hand, rice cake, knife, cutting board, etc. — with water to deal with the stickiness.
Typically, bingsu is drizzled with sweet condensed milk as a flavoring, but you can leave it out if you want, or use regular milk instead. You can make homemade condensed milk by simmering the milk (2 cups) with some sugar (1/4 cup or to taste) over medium low heat for 20 to 30 minutes or until it’s reduced by half. Stir frequently while simmering.
Green tea powder, roasted grain powder (misugaru, 미수가루), chopped or sliced nuts, and cookies are all very popular toppings. You can find misugaru at Korean markets. It’s a healthy, multi-grain powder that we dissolve in water or milk to drink.
Patbingsu (Shaved Ice with Sweet Red Beans)Print Recipe
For patbingsu (per serving)
- 1 bowl shaved ice or milk ice
- 2 or 3 tablespoons sweetened red beans (pat, 팥), aka adzuki beans canned or from scratch
- 2 tablespoons condensed milk
- a few sweet rice cake pieces (injeolmi, 인절미), aka mochi store-bought or from scratch
- Fruits, nuts, green tea ice cream, cookies, misugaru, green tea poweer, etc.
For the red beans
- 1 pound dried pat (팥, aka adzuki beans) about 2 cups
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup of sugar adjust to taste
- ⅓ cup of honey
For the rice cake
- 1 cup sweet rice powder (chapssal garu, 찹쌀가루)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons corn starch or roasted soybean powder for dusting - optional You can wet everything with water so rice cake won't stick instead.
- Before shaving the ice, make sure all the ingredients are cold. It also helps if you keep the serving bowls in the freezer for 10 minutes. Shave the ice in an ice shaver or in a blender or food processor.
- Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of the red beans. Drizzle with a tablespoon or two of condensed milk. Top it with a few rice cake pieces and your favorite fruit pieces, ice cream, and/or any other desired toppings.
For the red beans:
- Discard broken or rotten beans and rinse the beans. In a large pot, add the beans with 4 cups of water. Bring it to a boil, uncovered, over medium high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and boil for 5 minutes.
- Drain the beans.
- Return the beans to the pot with 8 cups of fresh water. Bring it to a boil. Cover, and simmer over medium low heat for about 1 hour, until the beans are nicely soft. Gently stir occasionally to make sure the beans are not sticking at the bottom. Add more water if needed.
- Gently stir in the salt, sugar and honey. Continue to simmer, uncovered this time, for about 10 minutes, gently stirring occasionally. Add more water if necessary. The beans should be liquidy. Most of the liquid will be soaked up by the beans even after being cooked.
- Transfer to a container and cool. Keep it in the fridge up to a week, or in the freezer for a few weeks. Thin it with cold water, if you want, when ready to use it again.
For the rice cake:
- Combine the sweet rice powder, sugar and salt. Mix well with a whisk.
- Add water and mix well again.
- Cover with ceramic wrap. Microwave for 2 minutes. Carefully open and flip the rice cake upside down and mix a couple of times. Microwave for another minute and check if the rice powder is entirely translucent. Microwave a little more (30 seconds) if needed.
- Remove from the microwave and let it sit for 5 minutes. Knead well with a wooden spoon for 2 to 3 minutes for a chewier rice cake.
- You can wet your hand and the cutting board, and turn the rice cake out on a wet cutting board. OR: Dust the cutting board with a tablespoon of cornstarch or roasted soybean powder. Flatten it with your hands into a rectangle.
- Cut into 1/2 to 3/4- inch strips. Wet the knife with water. Cut each strip into 3/4 inch cubes. Lightly dust the cut parts of the rice cake pieces with the cornstarch to prevent from sticking, if desired. You can freeze leftover rice cakes.
This recipe was originally posted in July 2011. Here, I have updated it with new photos, more information and improvements to the recipe.