This Eurasian Corned Beef Stew is a favourite childhood recipe from the Portuguese Eurasian community in Singapore and Malaysia.
It can be a bit of a strange one for some people, given that corned beef isn’t usually eaten “wet”. This was one of my mum’s lazy recipes; she was a nurse and was always working different shifts, and so easy meals were her thing!
You can read more about the Eurasian community on the Singapore and Malaysia page.
The Corned Beef Stew is a fairly light mix of beef and vegetables; as you can see from the images, the beef falls apart in the stew and ends up being a “secondary” ingredient, with the vegetables being the star of the dish.
And like the Eurasian Beef Smore, this stew is a combination of European and Asian, but is lighter on the spices, with just cloves and cinnamon.
What is Corned Beef?
Corned beef is just beef that’s been salt cured, no corn in sight! The word corn refers to corns of salt, which is a term used to describe large grains of rock salt used in the curing process. Naturally, corned beef came about as a means of preserving meat before the days of refrigeration.
Just like my mum, this is one of my lazy dishes that gets whipped up when I’m in a hurry, easy on the corned beef and heavier on the vegetables. The beef is there to lend flavour and depth to the stew itself.
And here’s an old picture of my late grandparents, mum, aunts and a couple of uncles taken in the late 1950s. My mum in on the extreme right, and you can see straight off, can’t you, how multicoloured we are?
The ladies are wearing a traditional Malay outfit called Baju Kebaya. On the extreme left, is my mum’s sister, Auntie Rehana, who just turned 70, and the family has planned a big surprise party for her, this weekend in Singapore. Sadly, I shall miss it, but we did send a quick video greeting.
Only the 2 ladies at either end, and the little baby are still around; my mum and her sisters.
Ingredients in our Corned Beef Stew Recipe
Corned Beef – feel free to use canned or “fresh” corned beef, the sort you get from your local deli. You can also use the low fat variety, but you will probably need 1 tablespoon of olive oil right at the start to cook the aromatics.
Change the vegetables if you like, add some celery and some leeks, it is completely a matter of taste. Just be sure to cut up all the vegetables to a fairly similar size, for easier eating.
Beef stock – in an ideal world, you’d be making this, but a good quality, stock cube or stockpot mixed in water will suffice. One with no additives. And don’t forget, we are going for light beef stock, so half strength.
Right then, let’s get our aprons on!
More Eurasian Recipes on LinsFood
If you fancy more Eurasian recipes, check out the Singapore and Malaysian Food page for gems like:
Corned Beef Stew | A Eurasian Recipe from Singapore and Malaysia
- 400 g (14 oz) corned beef (can or fresh)
- 1 large onion sliced
- 2 cloves garlic sliced width wise
- 1 red chilli sliced
- 1 small piece cinnamon about 2.5cm/1 in long
- 3 cloves
- ½ tsp black peppercorns
- 500 ml (2 cups) light beef stock or water
- 2 handfuls white cabbage
- 1 large carrot
- 2 medium potatoes
- ½ a red capsicum (bell pepper)
- ½ a green capsicum (bell pepper)
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 handful peas fresh or frozen
- small handful fresh coriander leaves chopped, to serve
Let’s start with chopping up all the vegetables.
- Halve, then slice the onion thinly.
- Slice the garlic widthwise.
- Slice the red chilli.
- Shred the cabbage into medium strips.
- Chop up the carrot into 1cm (1/2″) rings.
- Scrub the potatoes clean, no need to peel, then chop into 5cm/2″ cubes.
- Chop up the bell peppers into roughly the same size as the carrots and quarter the tomatoes.
- Skim some of the fat off the corned beef and heat in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat.
- Sauté the onions, garlic, chillies, cinnamon, cloves and black peppercorns for about 1 minute, until you get a whiff of the aroma.
- Add the corned beef and fry for about 3 minutes, cutting it up with the end of your ladle as you go along.
- Add the stock, cabbage, potatoes, carrots and capsicum and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked.
- Add the tomatoes and peas, bring back to simmering point, then take off the heat immediately. We do not want to overcook the peas.
- Sprinkle with the coriander leaves and serve with a plate of plain boiled rice.