Expanding Our Horizons: Coconut Curry Beef Stew

We got into a rut last year with our slow cooker. I LOVE my slow cooker and use it at LEAST once a week during the school year. And usually Mexican food. But it got to the point that we weren’t saying “Ermergerhd” when we’d eat the fabulous tacos and stews coming out of the cooker. And when something stops being special and starts just being Tuesday night, it’s time to shake things up. So off to the internet I went for some inspiration.

Chop veggies and sear meat before combining it all in your slow cooker.

I found a lot of beef stew recipes but most were pretty typical – beef, carrots, potatoes, stock, and lots and lots of yawns. Booooring.  Then I remembered a spicy beef stew that my friend Kristi made for me back in Atlanta. Basically just beef chunks, sweet potatoes and tomatoes in a super spicy tomato broth. So I hit up Pinterest and put a search for beef/sweet potato/stew. I started seeing some combos that made me go, “Hmmmmmm. . . ” Lots of things that I wouldn’t have thought of combining. I found lots of Filipino recipes for beef stew and LOTS of different names for them. My recipe is adapted just a little on one from Manila Spoon.

Mix together sauce ingredients and pour over meat and veggies.

I couldn’t tell you the true Filipino name of this dish but whatever it is, our family gobbles it up. The combination of root vegetables, beef, coconut milk and curry really wakes up your taste buds. And of course the fish sauce (which you’ll find in the Asian section of your supermarket) gives it that little umami that makes it so yummy and makes you go “What the heck is that in the background?” (despite the horrific smell from the bottle). So shake things up and give this a shot. I think it will become just the thing to get you out of your weeknight rut.

I’m not going to lie. This isn’t pretty when you first open the pot. But give it a few very gentle stirs and it comes together into a beautiful, creamy, spicy stew.


Coconut Curry Beef Stew (adapted just slightly from Manila Spoon)

  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 2 lbs beef chuck stew meat (you can totally buy a big piece of chuck and cut it up into 1 inch pieces)
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 very large (or 2 small) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 2 – 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1-2 inches fresh ginger, minced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1-2 T curry powder (I’ve used regular curry powder but also Masaman, both are great)
  • 1 T ground coriander
  • pinch of red pepper flakes (totally optional, we just like a little kick to ours)
  • 1 14 oz. can coconut milk
  • 1-2 T fish sauce (just trust me, it does not taste like it smells)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish
  • Rice, naan and Sriracha for serving

Season beef chunks with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a shallow pan over medium high heat, melt in butter. In batches, sear beef until nicely browned on all sides. You aren’t trying to cook them, but you want some good color on them for more flavor. Transfer to slow cooker. 

Add veggies, garlic and ginger to slow cooker with beef and toss to combine.

In a medium bowl, whisk together coconut milk, spices, fish sauce and brown sugar until well combined. Pour over beef and veggie mixture. Give everything a stir to make sure all of the ingredients get seasoned. It’s not going to look like a lot of liquid but it will make more as it cooks.

Set your slow cooker for about 8 hours (or see my notes below about the best slow cooker EVAH which is why my photo shows 12 hours). When you are ready to eat, taste and add salt, pepper or a little more sugar as needed. Serve over some yummy Jasmine rice. We usually have a few naan to sop up any savory goodness left in your bowl. We like to top ours with a little cilantro for color and some Sriracha for a warm, comforting and slightly exotic weeknight meal!


And y’all, if you can find kosher fish sauce (which I have seen before!) this could totally work if you are following kashrut.


Now, I have to mention my slow cooker again. A few years back, the crock of my old slow cooker broke in a tragic dishwashing accident. It wasn’t the greatest slow cooker so I was happy to replace it. Did tons of research before finally settling on the Hamilton Beach Intellitime Slow Cooker. It purported to never overcook your food (which is often a BIG problem with slow cookers). The first time we used it, we were AMAZED that the meat was perfect and the veggies weren’t total mush. You simply tell it in how many hours you wish to eat and it adjusts the temperature so that it’s done when YOU want. And then it switches to a warmer function which holds it at a safe temp until you get there. We used the heck out of that thing for several years. Which is probably why, one day last spring, it simply died. We used it once or twice a week for YEARS so we were sad but amazed that it lasted as long as it did. In an act of desperation, I e-mailed Hamilton Beach asking if there was any troubleshooting that might get it up and running. Alas, it was not to be. BUT, because I am such a loyal and devoted fan, they offered to sell me one at a discount. I simply had to pick out the one on their website that I wanted. There are DOZENS of choices (one even has a meat thermometer that stops cooking when your food gets to temp – the technology is amazing). But guess what I chose? Of course, the exact same one I had before. I wasn’t going to mess with perfection. Y’all, I don’t usually use this site to promote products but today I’m making an exception because of the exceptional product and service that the folks at Hamilton Beach provide. Next time you are in the market for a slow cooker, check them out!


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