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.
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:
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.
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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- Grind fresh black pepper onto both sides of the steak and press it into the flesh.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.