Chinese cooks at Hawaiian ranches made stew on an open fire, tossing the less-than-tender beef into a pot of water to simmer all day long, then adding vegetables shortly before the cowboys came in.
Serves 6 - 8
2 pounds stewing beef (we also recommend chuck roast or short ribs)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 large onions
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce (or 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste)
6 medium potatoes, cut to the size of small stones
2 large carrots, cut to the size of bottle corks
5 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons flour
pinch of sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 cup water
Finely mince the garlic and half of one of the onions. Heat the cooking oil in a large pot. Add the garlic and onions and brown. Add the beef and salt and sautee until beef is thoroughly browned. Add tomato sauce and enough water to cover the beef. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer covered, until meat is tender - a half an hour longer (longer for short ribs).
Meanwhile, cut the remaining onions into wedges (six to an onion). Add the potatoes to the pot and again bring to a boil. Replace the lid and simmer another half hour. Add carrots and cook 15 minutes; add the onions; simmer another 15 minutes.
Mix the thickener ingredients in a small bowl. Make sure to get all the lumps out. Bring the stew back up to a boil. Add thickener, stirring constantly until well combined. Simmer another 10 minutes. Serve on plates over steaming hot white rice.