Classic French Beef Stew (with an Asian Twist)

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Beef cubes simmered in a red wine and beef broth until it’s so tender that it can be cut with a spoon?  Purely French.

That addition of fresh ginger?  Not so French.  But oh so good.

Living in predominantly Asian Honolulu (and having formerly lived with three Asian roommates- Taiwanese, Vietnamese and Japanese, all of them excellent cooks) has certainly affected how I approach all sorts of dishes, not just Asian ones.

When I tasted a beef stew similar to this one at a potluck– very heavy on the wine and ginger– I knew that ginger would become standard in my beef stew from that point forward.    But this isn’t the local Chinese-influenced beef stew that you’ll find at plate lunch places in Hawaii, with tomato sauce, shoyu or even curry powder.   It’s French at its core, just with a little twist.

Fancy enough for a dinner party, but easy enough for a family Sunday supper, this is one of my go-to meals that I make when I visit my family in the Northeast during the winter.  There always seems to be a couple packages of beef in the freezer and just enough vegetables in the pantry or crisper to pull this stew together.   And since my parents don’t ever have fresh ginger on hand, ground ginger comes to the rescue.

Sometimes I stick with just carrots, potatoes and peas; other times I’ll throw in some parsnips or turnip.  Play around with this one… it’s hard to mess it up.

Classic French Beef Stew (with an Asian Twist)

Yield: 8 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours


* 3 Tablespoons olive oil
* 2 medium onions, diced
* 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
* 2 pounds your favorite stew beef (chuck, top or bottom round, etc.), cut into 1-inch cubes
* 3/4 inch piece peeled ginger, grated (easiest to grate frozen ginger with a Microplane zester)
* 2 cups red wine
* 3 cups beef broth or stock
* 2 bay leaves
* salt
* 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes (can also use half carrots, half parsnips)
* 1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
* 1-1/4 cups frozen peas
* 1 Tablespoon corn starch (optional)
* pepper


Heat the oil in a very large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened. Use a slotted spoon to remove the garlic and onions to a large plate. Add just enough beef to form a single layer in the pot. Brown the beef on all sides and remove to the same plate as the onions and garlic. Repeat with the remaining beef.

After removing the last of the browned beef from the pot, add the grated ginger to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until highly fragrant, about a minute or two. Return the onions, garlic and browned beef to the pot. Add the red wine, beef broth, bay leaves and season with a touch of salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until the meat is tender, about 40-60 minutes. Add the carrots and potatoes and cook until they can be pieced with a fork, about 20-30 minutes.

If you’d like to thicken the stew a bit, mix the corn starch with 1 Tablespoon of water to make a slurry, making sure there are no lumps. Add to the stew and stir well. Add the frozen peas, stir, and cook until the peas are heated through and the stew has thickened slightly.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

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