Artwork by Gian Ferrer

It seems that Pinoys have a natural affinity for all things Korean. Pinoys flock to Seoul during the summer, Samgyupsal places remain crowded despite being around for awhile, and tickets for K-pop groups sell out quickly. Along with the rise of their popularity is Korea’s own sweet and filling treat – the Bingsu (which literally means “shaved ice”).  That said, it contains crushed fine ice, condensed milk, syrup, and various toppings like red beans and fruits. With summer in full swing, these bowls of shaved ice will once again rule the IG feeds of gourmands who want to beat the heat. But where exactly did it have its start? Read on to know the story behind this well-loved summer treat.

The Royal Ice Box

Some sources say that the first form of Korean Bingsu was enjoyed during Korea’s Joseon Dynasty in 1392–1910. Then, government officials who were taking care of the Royal Ice Box would take turns getting and shaving ice from it. They would crush it until the texture becomes powder fine, mix it with different toppings such as fruits, and share it with each other.

Modern Bingsu

After a few years, the Bingsu started evolving into its modern form. Back when Japan ruled Korea in the 20th century, people started combining red bean paste with shaved ice. Although there were a lot of shaved ice-based desserts in Asia, this special ingredient made the Korean dessert stand out from the rest. This form of Bingsu is what you now mostly see in Korean cafes and restaurants.

Creative Spin

While a few purists prefer the classic form of Bingsu which includes the Red Bean Paste, a few adventurous ones have tried experimenting with it. Just one peek at a Korean cafe’s menu will give you an idea on different restaurants’ own creative spins. A few of the mouthwatering flavors you can enjoy are the Green Tea, Cookies and Cream, or even a Pinoy-influenced Ube. Whether you want your Bingsu sweet or fruity, you’ll definitely find a flavor that will perfectly suit your taste buds.

Whether you’re enjoying winter in Korea or beating Manila’s scorching heat, one thing is for sure – this shaved ice treat is a dessert that you can enjoy the whole year round.

Where are you headed to next for your next bingsu treat? Let us know in the comments below!