I'm about to admit something that might be a little troubling to some people. I love red bean paste. The texture is a lot like Mexican refried beans, but the taste is mild and slightly sweet. It's a bizarre combination that unsettles Erin to this day. But I find it's kind of grown on me. Perhaps I've gone native. The other day, Erin took me to a local Caffe Bene. To those of you unfamiliar, it's like a Korean Starbucks but with better coffee. It's a pretty big chain over here, and you can find one in almost every decent size city. They are popular for casual meetings, hang-outs, and dates. They even have branches in New York and LA.
And they serve massive desserts. It is not at all uncommon for a gaggle of friends to go to a Caffe Bene, order a single dessert, and share it between them. And unless we're talking an army of people, they probably won't finish it. A few of Erin's Korean co-teachers recently took her out, and they shared a bing su. She enjoyed the experience so much, she decided I needed to try it.
What is bing su? AKA pat bing su, it's shaved ice, gelato or ice cream, red bean paste, almonds, and whipped cream. And they throw that together in a bowl big enough to bath in.
In our case, we got green tea ice cream, hence the green tinged bing su. To eat it, you grab a couple of spoons and swirl those contents around until they are thoroughly mixed. At which point you basically have a super thick milkshake. Then you scoop the contents into your mouth.
Traditionally, pat bing su is just shaved ice and red bean paste. But even I have limits, and that sounds kind of boring. Trendy coffee shops jazz it up with fruits and gelato. It is very popular during Korean summers. In fact, during our recent trip to Busan, there were hawkers wandering the beach carrying massive coolers stuffed with bing su.
Anyway, it's delicious. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go get some red-bean paste donuts and have a little breakfast.