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Hawaiian Beef Stew

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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

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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 ^_^
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Mahalo for Reading!

LEO

Saturday 6th of February 2021

LOL. I guess I have to go back to rice. I love stew and will be trying this. Great for winter. It's -17C in Canada. But I will opt for German thick and condensed bread (Bavarian style), instead. Sorry Kathy. But others in my household will eat the rice as a consolation. (P.S. I've been going through and saving all the recipes. Will definitely try them. Tomorrow off to get some beef stew)

LEO

Wednesday 10th of February 2021

@Kathy, Just made it. Just finished it. And I did eat it with rice. Everything was so tender. So soft and so good. It was perfect. So that's how you stew a beef. Everything was onolicious. I also paired it with the pan fried tofu (I am a sesame oil fanatic) and I made the haupia again. Love it so much. Like Hawaiians, Filipinos eat everything at the same time. Why not?

Kathy

Monday 8th of February 2021

Aloha Leo - In Hawaii, we eat everything with rice hahah. Hope you enjoyed! ^_^ - Kathy

Beverly Stanaland

Saturday 24th of October 2020

Hawaiian style Beef Stew and rice....winnah, winnah, beef stew dinnah!! Lol. Great recipe, works with hamburger also. Mahalo for posting.

Natalie

Tuesday 21st of July 2020

I have never made beef stew cause I don’t like it. I made this recipe tonight because my husband loves beef stew. First of all, super simple to make. Secondly, OMG. This was DELICIOUS. I will definitely make it again! Thank you!!!

Kathy

Wednesday 22nd of July 2020

Hi Natalie! So happy you loved the beef stew!! Your comment made my day, thank you ^_^ - Kathy

Alan

Sunday 29th of March 2020

Hi Kathy: I love beef stew. I still make it a lot; maybe at least once a month or so. But I guess I make the Mainland version of it since I don't use tomatoes, or tomato sauce, or tomato sauce. My Haole GF likes my stew, but without the tomatoes. I just use kitchen bouquet and make it brown gravy style. I sometimes eat mine with Tabasco sauce on it.

Kathy Chan

Tuesday 7th of April 2020

Hi Alan! Ooo your version sounds really tasty! I like idea of "brown gravy style." I'm just used to all-tomato kind we grew up with. And yes to Tabasco, always. Hope you are doing well and taking care :) - Kathy

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