The Origin of Patbingsu

With Summer about to be in full force, I am looking for ways to cool myself down. The best way I have found is with something cool and refreshing. My blood is not 2 parts mulnaengmyeon (chilled buckwheat noodle soup) and 2 parts Korean ice cream and patbingsu. The other 6 parts are just my regular diet of rice, soup, soju, beer etc- not necessarily in that order.
These days, I have had a pressing question in my brain: what is the origin of patbingsu? 
Of course, there are variations of this snow ice dessert in other countries, but if you look at the classic patbingsu. You have fruit cocktail, sweetened condensed milk, corn flakes, and ice during summer. Could this been a dessert to have started during ancient times?

According to the Korea Herald, during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897),  “Seobingo ― the government office in charge of the royal ice box ― would share ice with fellow officials, who would enjoy it finely crushed and mixed with fruit for a granita-like dessert.” 

So, I guess it was something that only the privileged could have. The story places the origin at the famous bakery “Tae Keuk Dang.” This place is famous for their ice cream sandwiches (I’ve had them and they taste like sugary, watered down milk with a hint of vanilla. It’s nice that it’s not overly sweet, but it is nothing that is mind-boggling.) Their patbingsu is better. This one has lots of milk over crunchy ice topped with red beans and fruit cocktail. The best part of their patbingsu is the corn flakes and the sweet and chewy rice cake candy.

There are variations of this dish such as green tea patbingsu (the one at Neal’s Yard is outstanding) and coffeebingsu (Cafe de Coin is awesome), but the old-style patbingsu that has milk, beans, and roasted bean powder is a fake.

That is a modern interpretation of what an old patbingsu would be.

Why? Because people didn’t have the ice back then to make this dish.

I asked a number of older people at a cafe in Jongno this afternoon about this and they started a very excited debate about this dish. The topic of patbingsu was very dear to them. And they all had their opinions of how this dish started. What they agreed on is that the modern version of this dish has its origins after the Korean war and during the US occupation. 

They said that this dish was made from the USA surplus supplies and were first sold at street vendors and later at cafes. It was a way to beat the heat and to offer a sweet to the changing diet of Koreans that began to develop a “sweet tooth.”

Huh, pretty interesting stuff. 
  
Here are the main ingredients for this dessert. The full recipe and video can be found at Aeri’s Kitchen here. 

Main Ingredients

Come take a cooking class or take a Culinary Tour in Seoul! http://www.ongofood.com
Pictures are taken either with my Panasonic DMC-G2 Camera with 20mm Lens or with my iPhone 4G
Join the Seoul Eats Facebook Group Page to keep to date with the latest events.

Daniel Gray

Daniel Gray is a Korean adoptee and entrepreneur that returned to Korean in 2005 because he wanted to try and find his birth mother and to learn about Korean culture. He started a restaurant review blog in 2007, www.seouleats.com, that became a local and international hit. He and his blog has been featured in the New York Times, Monocle Magazine, The Kimchi Chronicles, Bizarre Foods, Rudy Maxa, Olive Magazine, Euronews and much more. He now is a partner at O’ngo Food Communications (www.ongofood.com), which is a culinary tourism and consulting company that offers Korean cooking classes and restaurant tours to travelers. In 2013, he started Brew 3.14 Pizza Pub. His food tours, cooking classes, and restaurant are ranked as some of the top attractions in Seoul according to the website tripadvisor. He lives in Korea with his wife.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInGoogle PlusYouTube

This entry was posted in Food News, Korean Eats and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.
  • HA JI KANG

    YOUR FOOD IS NOT BAD ITS SO DILESHOS

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Calendar

    July 2014
    S M T W T F S
    « Jun    
     12345
    6789101112
    13141516171819
    20212223242526
    2728293031