Location visited: Namyangju City, South Korea
Asian desserts. For some they are a welcomed treat. For others, I’ve heard words like strange, confusing and not appealing as descriptors or reactions. I will take a stab at this topic despite not being a huge sugar-goodies fan and say that one of the main causes for this seesaw result is the source of the sweetness within many Asian desserts. That being azuki beans. I think for most westerners, the concept of sweet tasting beans is unusual and hard to comprehend, given that beans are generally used more for savory dishes in North American cuisine. This juxtaposition is a concept that for some, that I think is hard to overcome. Its perhaps more a mental hurdle than anything else, that perhaps more experience can help people overcome.
When it comes to after-meal sweets in Korea, one of the things that pops into my mind right away is the summer favorite known as patbingsu. In English, I’ve seen it being referred to as red bean sherbet. But really, its a compilation of shaved ice, ice cream, diced fruit (strawberries, banana, etc.), jelly, bits of rice cake as staple elements and toppings. And for added texture, some places even add in some dry cereal flakes. I’m sure there are even more creative approaches and touches that some places add, but these seem to be the standard set from my own experience. Of course, the a fore mentioned sweet azuki beans are always involved.