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Hawaiian Beef Stew

Hawaiian beef stew is called “local beef stew” in Hawaii. It’s hearty and comforting, full of tender beef, carrots, and potatoes. Best served over a big bowl of rice!

Local style beef stew, ready to eat

What Is Hawaiian Beef Stew?

Ok, first things first! Most people call this dish Hawaiian Beef Stew. But in Hawaii, we call it local style beef stew. Or just beef stew. This is because beef stew is not actually a Hawaiian dish, it is a local dish (more on Hawaiian food versus local Hawaii food here).

But we don’t judge. However you call it, just make sure you eat it over rice (most important) and enjoy.

We grew up eating beef stew everywhere from school cafeteria to local restaurants. Of course, the best was always served by someone’s uncle or grandma. We also made a pretty mean version at home ^_^

More info and recipe below…

Local style beef stew, after two hours of cooking

Hawaiian Beef Stew Versus Regular Beef Stew

What’s the difference between our local Hawaii beef stew and regular mainland beef stew? Here are a few:

  • Tomatoes – Hawaii version has lots of tomatoes (in the form of tomato paste and canned whole peeled tomatoes). Mainland beef stew has no tomato (or very little, in the form of tomato paste).
  • Sweetness – Hawaii version is slightly sweeter (because of the tomatoes). Local tastes tend to veer a little sweet so this is just a better fit for our tastebuds.
  • Color – Hawaii version is redder in color. Mainland version is darker, more brown in color (this comes from the red wine and/or beef stock).
  • Seasoning – Hawaii version uses bay leaf. Mainland version often calls for many other ingredients like bay leaves, thyme, paprika, and even worcestershire sauce.
  • Rice! – In Hawaii we always eat beef stew over rice. Mainland version is usually eaten with bread. I am forever team rice ^_^

Canned whole peeled tomatoes and tomato paste

Why Tomato Paste and Whole Tomatoes

Fyi, I’ve included affiliate links below. I may earn a small commission (at no cost to you), if you purchase through the links.

This recipe calls for both tomato paste and a can of whole peeled tomatoes. Why both? They both add tomato flavors but in different ways.

You add in the tomato paste first, and saute it (with the onions), till the tomato paste turns a deep, brick red color. This gives the final dish a deeper, almost caramelized tomato flavor. It adds depth and complexity (with very little effort). 

The recipe calls for a big 28 ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes. The tomatoes (plus the juices in the can) make up the “saucy” part of this stew. Don’t worry about cutting up the tomatoes, they will naturally break down by themselves over the two hour simmering period. 

Note: For tomato paste, I use Muir Glen. For canned whole peeled tomatoes I like: Bianco DiNapoli, San Marzanos, and the 365 brand (which is much more affordable).  

Step 4 of the recipe (adding the whole peeled tomatoes and beef back in)

Where To Eat Hawaiian Beef Stew

You can get beef stew everywhere in Hawaii! Each place has their own style (more tomato/less tomato, some places make it a touch sweeter, other places even add shoyu!), so there’s no such thing as a “best” beef stew spot. Here are a few we like:

All the fresh ingredients for beef stew 

How To Make Hawaiian Beef Stew

These are the ingredients you’ll need:
Make sure you eat local beef stew over rice! It is most important. 
 
Here are the steps:
  1. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pot. Pat dry, lightly salt, and then brown the beef (on all sides) over medium-high heat. Once browned, remove beef to a plate. 
  2. Add more oil to the pot if needed. Add the onions and garlic, and saute for 3-5 minutes, till golden brown.
  3. Add the tomato paste. Saute another 2 minutes, till the tomato paste turns a darker, brick red color. 
  4. Add in the can of whole peeled tomatoes, bay leaves, and 1/2 cup of water. Add the beef back in. Bring to a boil. Then turn heat to low. Put on a lid, and let simmer for an hour. 
  5. Remove lid, turn heat back to medium-high. Add in the celery, carrots, and potatoes. Add more water if needed (you want to make sure all the meat and vegetables are covered). Bring to a boil. Then turn the heat back to low. Put the lid on and simmer for another hour. Season with salt and lots of black pepper.
  6. Serve over a big bowl of hot rice. It’s onolicious!

Printable recipe below ^_^

Hawaiian Beef Stew

Hawaiian Beef Stew

Yield: Serves three
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes

Hawaiian beef stew is called "local beef stew" in Hawaii. It's hearty and comforting, full of super tender beef, carrots, and potatoes. Best served over a big bowl of rice.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pot. Pat dry, lightly salt, and then brown the beef (on all sides) over medium-high heat. Once browned, remove beef to a plate. 
  2. Add more oil to the pot if needed. Add the onions and garlic, and saute for 3-5 minutes, till golden brown.
  3. Add the tomato paste. Saute another 2 minutes, till the tomato paste turns a darker, brick red color.
  4. Add the whole peeled tomatoes, bay leaves, and 1/2 cup of water. Add the beef back in. Bring to a boil. Then turn heat to low. Put on a lid, and let simmer for an hour. 
  5. Remove lid, turn heat back to medium-high. Add the celery, carrots, and potatoes. Add more water if needed (you want to be sure all the meat and vegetables are covered). Bring to a boil. Then turn the heat back to low. Put the lid on and simmer for another hour. Season with salt and lots of black pepper.
  6. Serve over a big bowl of hot rice ^_^

Chey

Sunday 6th of November 2022

How would I make this with beef sirloin tip? My store was out of chuck.

Hoku

Wednesday 26th of October 2022

This sounds ono and not how I was taught but I have a huge family..if I use about 8 pounds of Chuck do I just simply multiply the ingredients or what is your recommendation

Tamera

Saturday 22nd of October 2022

It is almost the same recipe we grew up with. Since I have tweeked it with chilli pepper flakes, small can tomato paste, spicy tomato sauce 6oz can, can of spicy tomato & jalapenos. (Hispanic isle). Adding cabbage last to cook in, or as a fresh garnish for crunch. Normally serve with traditional native fry bread. Always a hit. Definitely need to try with rice and a splash of chilli pepper water.

Annette

Wednesday 7th of September 2022

My parents born and raised in Maui, moved to the mainland in 1958. Mom made this stew every week for dinner. Yes, served over white rice. Sometimes with her homemade Kimchee on the side. Delicious!

Kathy

Friday 9th of September 2022

Hi Annette! Love it! This would be super delicious with a side of kimchee :) - Kathy

Gordon Bowker

Friday 8th of July 2022

We often stay in the guest house of Hawaiian friends in Kailua Oahu. Grandpa has passed away, but he always thickened his beef stew with poi. Super Ono. Now, other recipes don’t measure up. What you tink dis?

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