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Da’ Bes’ Hawaiian Local Style Beef Stew

Stepping outside my pesceterian box once again, craving some hearty summer comfort food the other night, I scoured the web searching for “The Best Hawaiian Beef Stew” and “Local Beef Stew” and “Tutu’s Ono Kine Beef Stew”, with one of the first query returns being from of all sources, Foodland. Which at first I passed on, thinking it would turn out “generic”. Yet, after watching Foodland’s excellent cooking demonstration video, I decided to “chance um”, and you know what? This Local Style Beef Stew recipe ROCKS!!

For those of you folks not from Hawaii, Foodland is Hawaii’s largest locally-owned and operated supermarket chain, founded by the Late Maurice J. Sullivan, who was an amazing man. As I mentioned in the previous post about suggesting Costco Food Court offering Saimin, Mr. Sullivan convinced Ray Kroc to put Saimin on the menu of Hawaii’s first McDonald’s location in Aina Haina back in the late 60’s.

Anyhow, if you search online for “Hawaiian Beef Stew” or “Local style Beef Stew” recipes, you’ll find a myriad of variations, especially when it comes to cooking steps, and the type of canned tomato product to use. Some use tomato paste, some don’t. Some use stewed tomatoes, while some use tomato sauce as one or the other, but not both. Also, some dredge the beef stew meat in flour, while some don’t. Some add shoyu, some add red wine, and the list goes on and on.

My grandma “mama” used to cook a kick @ss Beef Stew, and so does my mom. I also used to follow Sam Choy’s most excellent Beef Stew recipe. Still, I’m always up for trying something new, where I fortunately came across this one.

The key to this most excellent, back-to-basics “Local Style” Beef Stew recipe by Foodland Executive Chef Keoni Chang, isn’t  just the ingredients, but the methods and steps that are taken, so that you properly build the beef stew’s flavor and texture.

Speaking of texture, a personal modification I made to Chef Keoni’s recipe, is that I added a flour “slurry”, which is simply flour mixed with ice cold water, in order to thicken it more to my liking. I prefer my stew to be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and stay there, which I achieve by adding the flour slurry right when the stew is all pau. Make sure when you do this that the stew is still slowly bubbling, as you need to cook out the flavor of the flour. On a side note to that, back in the day, my grandmother “mama” used to thicken her beef stew with Poi! But Poi’s too expensive and a precious commodity now, so don’t do that. ;-)

Another minor modification I made was that I added 4 cloves of minced garlic into the stew during the onion saute stage, as every other Beef Stew recipe I’ve followed uses garlic, which I can never get enough.

The final modification I made is that I cooked it in my pressure cooker instead of a conventional pot, which cut the beef tenderizing and stock flavor development stage down from 2 hours to just 20 minutes. Nice! I’m telling you, if you don’t have a pressure cooker yet, GET ONE. You not only save time and energy (= $$$), but the resulting flavor is outstanding! Note that for the final stage when the stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, carrots, celery and potatoes go in, I did it non-pressurized, as I want to monitor the veggies’ tenderness and do my flavor adjusting and thickening at that point.

Following is Chef Keoni’s recipe for the PERFECT ono ‘kine broke da’ mout’ winnahz Hawaiian Local Style Beef Stew. Give it a try!

Local Style Beef Stew by Foodland Executive Chef Keoni Chang. Cooking and photography by Pomai.

A hearty local favorite that will warm your tummy!

By Foodland Executive Chef Keoni Chang


2PoundPremium Choice Certified Angus Beef® Boneless Chuck Roast or Beef Stew Meat
1eachmedium sized round onion, chopped
2Tablespoontomato paste
1leafbay leaf
3eachmedium sized carrots, peeled and chopped
2eachmedium sized potatoes, peeled and chopped
4stalkcelery, chopped
1each15 oz. can stewed tomatoes
1each15 oz. can tomato sauce
2Tablespoonvegetable oil
 eachsalt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large stock pot.
  2. Working in small batches in a single layer, brown the beef, making sure each piece is thoroughly caramelized.
  3. When all the meat is browned, set aside in a bowl, then add 1 medium sized chopped onion and brown, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add in the flour and continue to cook 1 minute.
  6. Add the 2 pounds of browned beef to the pot.
  7. Season to taste with salt and coarse ground black pepper. Add in the bayleaf.
  8. Add water so that the browned beef is just covered. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to medium/low. Simmer covered for 2 hours.
  9. Add the carrots, potatoes, celery, diced tomato and tomato sauce and simmer until the vegetables are tender.

I highly suggest you watch the following Foodland video presentation of this recipe, as it’s a lot more informative on each step…

Finish it with some fresh crack black, serve with hot rice and/or poi and enjoy!

Late night Beef Stew & Rice (mostly the veggies) “session”…

Related link:

AroundHawaii.com: The “Ultimate” Filipino Beef Mechado

P.S. Speaking of Da’ Bes’ Beef Stew, I stay get one Podagee joke for you.

There was da’ Hawaiian, da’ Japanee, and da’ Podagee in college sharing a dorm. All they did with their money was party, so they didn’t have any food in their tiny refrigerator, except for one last remaining bowl of Beef Stew Tutu Aunty made for them, and they all wanted to eat it.

So da’ Japanee guy said, “Brah, K, I tell you what, whoever get da’ best dream tonight can eat da’ stew tomorrow morning.”. “Shoots brah, good idea!” said da’ Hawaiian and Podagee.

So they all went to bed, then when they got up the next morning, da’ Japanee guy proclaimed, “Brah, I had da’ best dream! I when dream I had one massive penthouse on top Hokua Towah (Tower) looking ovah (over) Ala Moana Beach Park, one brand new Ducati Panigale R and one supah hot asian import model girlfriend!”.

Da’ Hawaiian guy replied, “Whoah cuz, mean! But my dream stay mo’ bettah (is better)! I when dream I had one mansion on da’ top of Waialae Iki, one mean (extemely attractive) Hapa-Hawaiian (half-breed) chic (girlfriend), and one brand new Ferrari 458 Speciale!”

The Japanee and Hawaiian then noticed da’ Podagee was M.I.A. (missing in action), asking each other “Brah, where Manno stay?” They then ran out the hallway and found Manno hiding way at the end, demanding of him, “Eh Manno, we both had awesome dreams, and we stay hungry! We like grind (eat) da’ beef stew! What you when dream?” To which Manno reluctantly replied, “I when dream you both was full, so I woke up and I ate da’ Beef Stew.”



58 thoughts on “Da’ Bes’ Hawaiian Local Style Beef Stew

  • September 16, 2016 at 8:47 am

    Pressure cooker for sure but you have to monitor the cooking time. A pound of beef 20 minutes and check it.  Want I don’t want is shreds of beef so don’t over cook.  Follow the recipe bit to build flavor don’t just add the onions, celery, carrots and garlic sauté them till wilted and deglaze thepan using the same pan to finish dish. The final secret is Derek Kirisu’s ingredient, a can of V8 veggie juice instead of tomatoe paste or sauce.

    • September 16, 2016 at 9:16 am

      Al Lum,

      Whoah brah, V8 Veggie Juice? Brah, ‘das one MEAN “secret ingrediment”! I shall try that next time!

      You’re right about watching the time with a pressure cooker, as it can quickly turn meat into shreds, which you do not want. The other night I pressure-cooked Sweet ‘n Sour Spare Ribs, and they were done within 15 minutes. Any more, and the pork meat would have been like shreds like Kalua Pig, with spare rib cartilage bits sitting on the bottom of the pot.

      Once you get used to using it, a pressure cooker is easy to time. I LOVE IT. Next to my chef’s knife, my pressure cooker is easily in the top 5 best tools in my kitchen.

  • July 24, 2017 at 11:26 am

    Will this still work if i use a crock pot? How would i change the directions if i did?

  • November 19, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    Fantastic! Made this tonight on a whim (with a couple of tweeks – added Chinese Maggi Sauce, little fish sauce,fresh tomatoes instead of stewed- this and that – but basically the same recipe here) -Totally wonderful! It’s supposed to be the coldest night of the year tonight with temps forecast to drop down to 31F and a big steaming pot of local style stew with hot rice hit the SPOT for a cold night. Good recipe Pomai!



  • November 21, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    Post script – Just happened to have a Kaneohe Girl who’s a chef visit my neighbor on her way to LV for a job, I brought over some stew and rice and she flipped over it! Aloha is where you find it. :D

    Best Regards.


    • November 21, 2017 at 4:25 pm


      That’s awesome! Glad to hear the recipe turned out great. Works every time for me! I bet lots of mainland folks have never tried beef stew the way we make it here in Hawaii with the tomato base. Being your chef friend is from Kaneohe, she surely knows what’s the real deal, and this one’s it!


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