Weekend Dish: Hawaiian-style beef stew

I think it’s ironic how much I love my crock pot.

I tend to do things quickly — sometimes too quickly — in an attempt to save time and be more efficient.

So you’d think I’d use my pressure cooker more often. Faster meals, less time, more efficient.

But instead, I cling to my trust crock pot, a slow cooker, emphasis on “slow.”

I love to make fall-off-the-bone shoyu chicken or simple pot roasts in this contraption. Dump all the ingredients in, turn it on, go about my daily life and come home to a kitchen filled with some delicious aroma. It’s like dinner cooked itself.

So last night I pulled out my crock pot, a gift my mom had given to me years ago. I decided to make my favorite Hawaiian-style beef stew.

Hawaiian-style beef stew is really not the best name for this dish. This style has a tomato sauce-based broth — which has nothing to do with traditional Hawaiian cuisine. Still, this brand of stew — hearty, with chunks of meat, veggies and potatoes — is hugely popular in the Islands and can be found at just about any plate lunch shop or lunch wagon.

And it’s super easy.

Here’s the step-by-step, with the recipe below:

My crock pot

Picture 1 of 20

I love slow cookers. It feels like the meal makes itself — and I like that.

Hawaiian-style beef stew
Using a crock pot


1 pound of stew meat (I used tri-tip steak)
1 medium onion, chopped
1-1/2 cups carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
2 large potatoes, chopped
1 14-ounce can beef broth
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce plus a can of water
1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste (after it cooks)


Plug in crock pot.

Cut up steak into bite-size chunks and brown in olive oil. Put meat, including the drippings, into the crock pot.

To that, add chopped onions, carrots, celery and potatoes. (You can add green peppers, too.) Then add the remaining ingredients.

Potatoes can be added before you start cooking or about 10 minutes before you turn off the crock pot, if you want your potatoes to be firmer.

Do NOT add pepper until AFTER the stew has cooked.

Cook for about four to six hours.

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22 Responses to “Weekend Dish: Hawaiian-style beef stew”

  1. oldshoes August 22, 2011 at 1:49 am #

    no beer ,wine ,or cooking sherry added to the fray? awww, oh well… Funny , first thing, that came to mind when i read stew-and slow-cooker, was CHILI! hehe.

    • Catherine Toth August 22, 2011 at 8:53 am #

      I have never made chili in my crock pot. Hmm. Maybe that’s this weekend’s dinner plan!

  2. 9th island Cuz August 22, 2011 at 2:07 am #

    Lets see, ” Cat Can Crock “, ” Iron Chef Cat “, ” Crocking With Cat “, what do you think Cuz :)

    • Catherine Toth August 22, 2011 at 8:54 am #

      I like “Cat Can Crock.” Or “Cat’s Crock.” LOL!

  3. David Jackson August 22, 2011 at 5:39 am #

    I’d leave off the celery and green peppers… might toss in a little ginger. Maybe a pinch of cayenne. Only way to get beef tender enough in stew is to cook it super slow. Best thing though is when done to let sit covered in the frig for a few days and do a slow reheat.

    • Catherine Toth August 22, 2011 at 8:54 am #

      Ginger and cayenne? Interesting!

      • David Jackson August 22, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

        Cayenne brings out the flavor of red meat/ Actually to it you could add starting the meat with water and a bit of vinegar to tenderize. Just love that tanginess the ginger adds when added a little later in the cooking process. Beef ginger is a tasty dish. Anyway, who doesn’t take a recipe and change things up to taste? Sometimes it is a mood thing. Can’t imagine how interesting dishes prepared by bipolar schizophrenic borderline dissociative personality disorder narcissists can be on a day to day basis… NO SOUP FOR YOU.

  4. M August 22, 2011 at 6:57 am #

    Hello Cat!
    Going try try your recipe. Thanks for the Great step by step pixs!.

    • Catherine Toth August 22, 2011 at 8:55 am #

      It’s super easy and forgiving. Trust me, if I can cook it, anyone (including your pet monkey) can.

  5. bumper August 22, 2011 at 7:23 am #

    Anyone know how to make local-style beef stew with really thick sauce? I can never do it at home, but love it when it sits dense and heavy on a spoon from a plate lunch.

    Keep the crock pot recipes coming. I could use some new inspiration!

    • Catherine Toth August 22, 2011 at 8:56 am #

      I just add flour/cornstarch to thicken it up. But I’d like to hear what other folks do!

      • bumper August 22, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

        I’m thinking of the kind that’s so dense that you can’t even see the rice when it’s poured over, and where it almost seems like potato was mashed up and used to thicken the sauce. Or maybe that’s the trick. :)

        • Catherine Toth August 22, 2011 at 7:49 pm #

          I’ll poke around online and see what I can find.

  6. The Chicago Cuz August 22, 2011 at 8:13 am #

    Now here is a topic near and dear to the Chicago Cuz’s heart….. the magic of the slow cooker! Nothing better then getting a big whole chunk of roast or corned beef and leaving it in the crock pot till the meat just flakes away with a fork, so juicy and tender. I tend to put my crock pot away during the summer, it’s just too hot for the Cuz to be having that contraption running all day. Luckily we are rolling up on fall and the crock pot will be out and used weekly for Stew, Chili, Pot Roast, Corned Beef and Cabbage, you name it…..

    Thanks for sharing Cat!

    • Catherine Toth August 22, 2011 at 8:57 am #

      I didn’t realize you were the crock pot connoisseur! You gotta start posting your crock pot creations on your Facebook!

  7. Mrs.R August 23, 2011 at 9:10 pm #

    Coat the meat in a couple of tablespoons or so flour first, then brown it. This cooks away that raw flour taste, adds flavor, and will thicken the stew.

  8. Kim September 4, 2013 at 10:35 pm #

    I used to use flap meat for SAMs or Costco as the meat will always be tender but its getting quite expensive now. I like your tip re pepper – never knew that.

    • Catherine Toth September 5, 2013 at 11:47 am #

      Yeah, the pepper trick I had to LEARN — and it was quite a lesson! LOL

  9. edw January 13, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

    after I coat the meat with flour and brown it I deglaze the pan with some red wine just to get all the tasty bits

  10. garry January 13, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

    I love using the crockpot it does save time and coming home to what seems to be cooking that magically done is awesome. Your first tip to plug it in is classic. I wonder how many people have come home to uncooked disappointment, lol.

  11. wafan January 13, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

    Stir in some instant mashed potato flakes to thicken.

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