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One French word: poêler, a French recipe: onglet de boeuf poêlé

Poêler = cuire dans une poêle = to fry in a frying pan (you can also use the verb frire = to fry). You could translate it by “to sear“, because cooking is very rapid usually.

Pronounced pouah-lay

The word comes from “poêle“= a frying pan, feminine noun, une poêle, la poêle, les poêles. Not to be confused with the masculine noun, un poêle, which is a stove.

To get back to the verb, this is a regular, simple verb ending in -er, the most usual of French verb categories. Now verbs are a little more complicated than nouns, so we’ll go into a little detail.

Poêler is the infinitive of the verb, that is, its very basis, to fry or cook in a frying pan.

If you want to use the verb, you have to conjugate it, that is, learn to say the I, you, he/she, we, you plural, they : je poêle, tu poêles, il/elle pôele, nous poêlons, vous poêlez, ils/elles poêlent. The pronunciation is the same for all of these (pouahl) except we which is pronounced pouahl-on, and the you plural, which is pronounced pouahl-ay. You don’t hear the s in the tu form, or the ent in the ils/elles form.

The past participle is poêlé=fried, seared

This grammar lesson is necessarily succinct, and will have been insufficient for those trying to learn French, and boring for those who want to get on with the recipe!

The recipe for today is onglet de boeuf poêlé (=seared hanger steak, back steak). It’s very difficult to translate different cuts of meat as there are those which simply do not exist from one country or culture to another. These are the translations I have come up with, but for greater clarity (and for the butchers among you!) here is a diagram of a “beef” and where this particular cut is taken from:


Where the “onglet” is taken from (wikipedia photo)

and another photo of the raw piece (sorry you vegetarians out there), which is what we call in French “de la viande longue“, where the fibres run lengthwise, rather than “de la viande courte” as in rumpsteak for instance, where they run crosswise, that is the slice cuts across the fibres.


Onglet raw (wikipedia photo)

My recipe for onglet poêlé is good when you like your meat rare, although if this is not the case, you can always poêle it to a frazzle! I cooked it as part of a bento lunch I did for myself last summer.

Seared beef bento

Onglet poêlé

You will need :

  • a thick, lean steak of about 150gr per person, or to suit your appetite (it needs to be at least 2cm thick if not 3cm)
  • 2tbs Kikkoman soy sauce
  • 1tbs runny honey
  • 1tbs white wine
  • 1tsp grated ginger
  • a spring onion stem and green part
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • a lime wedge



  1. In a small non-stick saucepan, combine the soy sauce, honey, wine and ginger, and boil to reduce to a syrupy consistence, stirring occasionally but watching contantly. Don’t take your eyes off it or it’ll burn. Remove from the heat.
  2. A heavy cast iron skillet is best for this recipe, but don’t worry if you don’t have one. Heat the skillet dry until it is very, very hot.
  3. Grind fresh black pepper onto both sides of the steak and press it into the flesh.
  4. Brush the pan now with a little corn or peanut oil, and fry the steak for about 2 minutes on either side if you want it very rare (saignant, remember?), more if you prefer it better cooked.
  5. Transfer to a chopping board (une planche à découper) and with a sharp knife (un couteau bien aiguisé), cut slices (des tranches) about 4mm thick, on the cross. You should have a nice crust on the outside, and delicious pink meat on the inside.
  6. If this is part of an “ordinary” meal, serve immediately, hot, with plain boiled rice or chips and a green vegetable of your choice.If it is to be part of a bento or lunchbox, it is really good cold.
  7. In both cases, drizzle the syrupy sauce you have just created over the top, garnish with chopped spring onion, sliced fresh chili and toasted sesame seeds. And a lime wedge to squeeze over for some acidity.

As you can see from my photo, I served mine cold, on raw, fresh garden peas, with a cucumber salad and a beautiful apricot for dessert.

Bon appétit.


About OneFrenchWord

I was a professional linguist and have been a life-long foodie. I am now lucky enough to be retired and free to roam the beaches around my home at the tip of the Finistère (Brittany, France). Writing is occupying a larger place in my life, with this blog and a children's book in preparation. I shall feel much happier calling myself a writer when I have published a book. And so posts on OneFrenchWord will be published first as an e-book, my ambition being to see a glossy volume on French language and cuisine in print some day. So keep reading, and snap up the book when it appears!

10 responses »

  1. My favourite recipe by far..I may try to make this after my exams and post pictures on how it just looks too good to pass up..*eyes light up*

  2. Good! I’m glad I’m getting it right!

  3. Where are you getting all this wonderful grammar information? Also, do you make up these recipes??? My daughter speaks French and has French pen pals. I will email her info about your blog.

  4. It’s just sort of burble! I’m a linguist but not a grammarian. I just write it as I feel it. I was brought up speaking English, but have lived in France and have had French nationality for the past 45 years. So I’m more at home in French.
    Cooking is my favourite activity (apart, possibly, from eating!), and I do it every day. All the recipes on my blog are of my own invention, though does oone really invent anything new in the kitchen? I invent daily, depending on what I have in the fridge, what I find at market, or what I feel like eating. And all the photos so far, except the galette des rois because I hadn’t made mine yet, are of food I’ve cooked for myself just before I devour it!
    I’m glad you enjoy it.

    • Thinking about this during the night, I have to add that of course I did not invent the recipe for Galette des rois, it is traditional in France, but this is the version that I myself do. Nor did I invent the apple cake, it is a family recipe from my mother. As I said, does one really invent anything in the kitchen? It’s all been done before. One adds a touch, that’s all!

  5. I think I’ll get my husband to help me try this making thine one too, and I love that it is a feminine noun!

  6. and this should be sitting where thine is of course…

    • haha, I thought it was “old English” and couldn’t work it out! Glad you like my recipe! I was afraid people would not get through all the grammar stuff at the top, down to the food bit!

  7. Hello! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after browsing through some of the post I realized it’s new to me. Anyways, I’m definitely happy I found it and I’ll be book-marking and checking back frequently!

  8. Merely wanna state that this is extremely helpful, Thanks for taking your time to write this.


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