A treasured family recipe…
My Hawaiian Grandpa Clarence was easily one of the most influential & special people in my life. Throughout my childhood we only got to spend time with him for a few weeks every couple of years since he lived in Hawaii (where my mom was born & raised) & we lived in Wisconsin. Every other summer we’d stay at Grandpa’s house in Honolulu; he’d come to visit us in Wisconsin every Fall in between. Though our visits were far & few between, time with Grandpa Clarence was always so special.
Grandpa Clarence was an absolutely amazing cook & baker with the most generous heart. It’s one of the reasons he’s so dear to me – Grandpa was truly an embodiment of the spirit of aloha.
Many of the food memories from my childhood center around him: warming up Grandpa’s famous banana bread muffins for a quick breakfast (then packing up extras to share with the mailman or bank tellers or anyone we might run into throughout the day), dunking his prized cornbread into a warm bowl of chili, & absolutely begging Grandpa to make his famous Hawaiian beef stew for dinner.
To this day, there’s nothing more comforting to me than a cozy bowl of Grandpa Clarence’s beef stew served island style, over a pile of rice. It’s what comfort food is all about, & I’m so excited to share this special recipe with you. ♡ Read on to learn more about this Hawaiian-Style Beef Stew, or jump straight to the recipe & get cookin’!
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Wait, what is Hawaiian Beef Stew?
Let’s back up for a quick sec, since I think it may be a little surprising to learn that Hawaiian beef stew is a thing. After all, it’s beef stew. Nothing about it feels especially islandy or tropical, right?!
The truth is that even though Hawaii is home to so many amazing fresh ingredients & flavors, comfort food is a huge part of Hawaiian food culture. Hawaii is a melting pot of many different Pacific & East Asian cultures, all bringing their own versions comfort food into the Hawaiian food scene: noodles, dumplings, fried chicken(!), gravy-smothered plates of rice & eggs, & yes…Hawaiian-style beef stew.
Hawaiian beef stew is just as rich, hearty, & comforting as the beef stew you already know & love. Unlike the classic beef stew you find here on the mainland (or at least here in the Midwest), Hawaiian beef stew also has unique umami & tang, which come from a couple of staple island ingredients – shoyu (i.e. Japanese soy sauce) & Worcestershire. And, like many authentic local-style Hawaiian meals, Hawaiian beef stew is often served over rice.
Grandpa Clarence’s is my absolute favorite Hawaiian-style beef stew. I make a batch whenever I’m in need of a little comfort. This Hawaiian beef stew recipe was first published here on PWWB in 2019 as an Instant Pot recipe. We’re revisiting it today with a focus on stovetop preparation, which is how Grandpa always made it. However, you’ll still find Instant Pot, slow cooker & oven-braised instructions in the Recipe Notes, below. They all result in a wonderfully rich & comforting Hawaiian-style beef stew, so it’s really a matter of personal preference & how much time you have to prep your beef stew.
Key Ingredients in Hawaiian-Style Beef Stew:
Like any classic beef stew recipe, this Hawaiian beef stew recipe is made with humble, straight-forward ingredients. They’re simple staples that you likely already have on hand at any given point in time.
You will need…
- Beef – A good ol’ beef chuck roast is perfect for Hawaiian beef stew. If it’s more convenient for you to buy pre-cut stew meat, go ahead & do that.
- Celery, carrots, onion, & potatoes – As a lifelong celery-hater, I always go light on celery & heavy on carrot, though you can do whatever you prefer. I like using Yukon gold potatoes for their buttery flavor & texture. You can use whatever potatoes you like best.
- Tomato sauce & tomato paste – Give Hawaiian-style beef stew its velvety body & rich, tangy flavor.
- Shoyu (Japanese soy sauce) – A staple ingredient in Hawaiian kitchens. You can find shoyu at any well-stocked Asian food store, or you can easily order it online. Aloha Shoyu is one of my trusted go-to brands. If you can’t find shoyu, feel free to swap it out with your favorite soy sauce or tamari.
- Worcestershire sauce – An addition that adds loads of richness & depth of flavor.
- Beef stock – Use low-sodium stock or broth in this recipe since the shoyu & Worcestershire add plenty of saltiness.
- All-purpose flour – Just a bit, to dredge the beef & thicken the stew.
Budget-friendly beef stew tip: While beef chuck roast isn’t too expensive, it’s not especially cheap either! During soup & stew season, I like to pick up a nice chuck roast whenever it’s on sale. I bring it home, trim it, cube it, & keep it on hand in my freezer for whenever a Hawaiian beef stew craving strikes.
How to make Hawaiian Beef Stew
This Hawaiian beef stew is really simple to throw together. It’s a one-pot operation & it simmers for 2-3 hours, yielding beef stew with beautifully fall-apart tender beef & incredible rich flavor.
Here’s what you’ll do…
- Brown the beef – Season the beef with salt & black pepper, give it a quick dusting of flour, & cook until the surface is deeply browned. Why? ⇢ This is, hands down, the most important step in this Hawaiian beef stew recipe! It serves 2 important purposes. First, it creates a beautiful crust on the beef, which locks the juices inside the meat, preventing them from seeping out as the beef stew slowly cooks. This means the beef stays nice & juicy, & doesn’t dry out as it cooks. Second, as the meat browns, it leaves browned bits on the bottom of the pan (fond being the technical French term), which is what creates the rich base flavor of the stew.
- Build & simmer – Once all of the beef is browned, add all of the other beef stew ingredients into the pot, & let it do its thing for 2-3 hours. Why? ⇢ A low & slow cook allows the flavors of the Hawaiian beef stew to really build & develop. The beef gets perfectly fall-apart tender & your kitchen will smell like heeeeaven.
- Thicken with a slurry – Once the stew is ready, thicken it with slurry. Whip up a quick slurry using beef stock & flour, then stir it into the stew. Almost instantly, the stew will thicken into the most beautiful gravy.
Your house will smell amazing, & you’ll be ready to dive into the most cozy bowl of classic Hawaiian comfort food.
Local-Style Beef Stew FAQs:
- What’s shoyu? Shoyu is Japanese soy sauce & it’s a staple ingredient in Hawaiian kitchens. You can find shoyu at any well-stocked Asian food store, or you can easily order it online. Aloha Shoyu is one of my trusted go-to brands.
- Gluten-free Hawaiian beef stew – A couple of tweaks make this beef stew recipe completely gluten-free. Swap shoyu for tamari, & swap the all-purpose flour with cornstarch or your favorite gluten-free cup-for-cup flour substitute.
- How to make Slow Cooker or Crockpot Hawaiian Beef Stew? – This recipe is incredibly slow cooker-friendly! I suggest browning the beef on the stovetop to develop those rich flavors, then you can transfer to a Crockpot or slow cooker. Full slow cooker directions are included in the Recipe Notes, below.
- How to make Instant Pot Hawaiian Beef Stew? – This recipe is also incredibly Instant Pot-friendly. In fact, it’s my go-to method for busy weeknights. Full Instant Pot directions are also in the Recipe Notes, below.
- How to serve Hawaiian-style beef stew like a local? – Easy! Whip up a pot of rice, spoon the beef stew over top & dive in.
Grandpa Clarence will be so proud of you! I cannot wait for you to try this Hawaiian Beef Stew! It’s a treasured family recipe, & I know you’ll love it too. If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations! Happy cooking! ♡
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My Hawaiian Grandpa’s famous Hawaiian Beef Stew. A tangy & rich tomato gravy simmers with onions, carrots, potatoes, & beef until perfectly fall-apart tender. Serve it Hawaiian-style, over rice, for the best comfort food dinner! Slow cooker & Instant Pot directions provided in the Recipe Notes, below.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup all-purpose flour, divided
- 2 pounds beef chuck, trimmed & cubed into 1-inch pieces
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 2 stalks celery, finely sliced
- 4 medium carrots, peeled as desired & cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 medium yellow onions, peeled & cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled & cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 (one) 8-ounce can tomato sauce
- ½ cup shoyu (or low-sodium soy sauce)
- ½ cup Worcestershire sauce
- 4 cups low-sodium beef stock, divided
- for serving, as desired: rice
- Season the beef: Place ¼ cup of the flour in a medium bowl. Using paper towels, pat the stew meat as dry as possible, then season generously with the salt and ground black pepper. Dredge the seasoned stew meat in the flour, coating the meat well but shaking off any excess flour. Set aside.
- Brown the beef: Add the olive oil to a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat (I use a 5-quart Dutch oven). Once the oil & hot and shimmering, add in the beef, shaking off any excess flour before adding it into the pot. Brown 2-3 minutes per side, working in batches as necessary to avoid overcrowding the pot.
- Build the Hawaiian beef stew: Once the beef is browned, add the remaining ingredients into the pot: celery, carrots, onions, potatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, shoyu, Worcestershire, & 3 ½ cups of the beef stock. Stir to combine.
- Cook the Hawaiian beef stew: Increase the heat to high to bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to low to maintain a gentle simmer. Cover & simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally, until the beef is fall-apart tender. Add the remaining ½ cup beef stock & ¼ cup all-purpose flour to a bowl or jar, whisking or shaking vigorously to combine until a slurry forms. While stirring, gradually pour the slurry into the beef stew. The stew should thicken almost immediately. Simmer 1-2 minutes longer to cook off the flour.
- Serve the Hawaiian beef stew island-style, over a bed of rice. Enjoy!
- Make-Ahead, Storage & Freezing:
- Storage Instructions: Hawaiian beef stew stores incredibly well – it’s the type of recipe that gets even more flavorful as it sits! Transfer cooled Hawaiian beef stew to an airtight container & store in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Easily reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave until warmed through.
- Freezing Instructions: Hawaiian beef stew is also incredibly freezer-friendly. To freeze, transfer cooled Hawaiian beef stew to a freezer container or divide it up between multiple freezer containers for smaller portions – These are my absolute favorite! Freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw, place the frozen Hawaiian beef stew the refrigerator overnight or submerge the freezer container in room temperature water for a quicker thaw. Easily reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave until warmed through.
- 10-Minute Meal Prep: While there’s lots of stove time involved in making this Hawaiian beef stew, you can eliminate all of the active work involved by chopping up the beef & veggies in advance. To meal prep, complete the following tasks, & at dinnertime, all you have to do is get cooking – easy!
- Trim & cube 2 pounds beef chuck. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Finely slice 2 stalks of celery, & chop 3 medium carrots & 3 medium yellow onions into 1-inch pieces. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Alternate cooking methods:
- OVEN-BRAISED HAWAIIAN-STYLE BEEF STEW: Prep the recipe according to Steps 1-4, above. Rather than cooking on the stovetop, transfer the covered pot to a 325 degree F oven. Braise in the oven for 2 1/2 – 3 hours, until the beef is fall-apart tender. Complete the recipe according to Step 4, above, & serve.
- SLOW COOKER HAWAIIAN BEEF STEW: Prep the recipe according to Steps 1-2, above. Transfer the browned beef to the slow cooker, along with remaining ingredients, as described in Step 3. Slow cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 7-8 hours until the beef is fall-apart tender. Finish as directed in Step 4. If your slow cooker has a searing/browning feature, you can use it to cook this entire Hawaiian beef stew recipe (Steps 1-4) in the slow cooker.
- INSTANT POT HAWAIIAN BEEF STEW: Use the Instant Pot’s “Sauté” setting to cook the recipe according to Steps 1-3, above. Cover & seal the Instant Pot. Cook on manual high pressure for 35 minutes. Carefully quick release by flicking the valve to its “venting” position. Switch the Instant Pot back to its “Sauté” setting, & finish the beef stew as directed in Step 4.
Keywords: Hawaiian beef stew, beef stew recipe, Hawaiian recipes, slow cooker, Instant Pot, gluten-free, dairy-free, comfort food recipes
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Recipe by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Eat Love Eat