As you may remember, earlier last year I was invited to try wagamama’s amazing Autumn/Winter menu. So as you can imagine, I was delighted when another invite popped into my inbox to meet the Executive Head Chef of wagamama, Steve Mangleshot, and Food Psychologist & Nutritional Therapist, Christy Fergusson.
I felt rather intrigued as to what the evening would entail as we were asked to choose our favourite dish on the menu. After going through my previous blog post and their menu, I couldn’t help but resist the creamy prawn kare lomen as my favourite choice.
Christy has recently worked on Channel 4’s Secret Eaters show and has featured her expert advice in ELLE, FHM and Women’s Health. By providing my favourite dish, Christy and Steve worked together to explore what flavours would satisify my appetite and ultimately discover alternative dishes which I would love. In a food psychology frame of mind, by finding dishes which I like – it also means they may trigger a series of special emotions, memories and moods, which would help to illustrate my personality.
As somebody who likes to eat, cook and try new flavours – I was really intrigued to see if it would work and to learn more about food psychology – all the while trying more wagamama dishes!
On the evening of the event, I rushed into town after work with a belly that simply wouldn’t stop rumbling.
Like an eager beaver, I was the first to arrive and got chatting with Christy & Steve. It was so interesting to discover more about their diverse careers. Steve’s enthusiasm and dedication to wagamamas was amazing to see as I learnt he had worked there for 12 years.
As everyone was arriving I met a few familiar faces including the lovely Kate, whilst also meeting Chrissie and Sarah. We soon all got into the swing of things and enjoyed a little natter with some wine.
Christy and Steve talked us through the event and set upon their mission to tantalise our tastebuds with an abundance of flavours.
First up, the prawn raisukaree (or as I originally wrote: ‘prawn rice and curry’ – such a foodie, I know…!).
The best thing about this dish was the punches of flavour. The spicy sauce hit my tongue with ammunition of flavour, before being silently muted with the coconut based-sauce. Steve advised me to squeeze the lime segment over the sauce as it would give a sweet, yet sour, citrus boost to the dish which would up-lift the coconut flavour.
I usually don’t like coconut, but found the sauce to be balanced with the varied seasoning of chillies, garlic and ginger. The dish was bulked out with fresh mangetout, peppers, red and spring onions whilst the mini prawns were coated nicely in the creamy, mild sauce.
I would like to use more limes in my cooking – perhaps with a salad, chicken or in a homemade curry. As I think the tangy, citrus spark could change a dish and give it that extra boost of flavour. Plus, it would make a change from the many lemons I use!
According to Christy, being partial to citrus flavours suggests that the individual is full-spirited and energetic. I agree with her statement as for me, personally, lemons and limes remind me of the summer and whenever I think about this particular season – I become so happy and excited. I think the sweet and sour sides to the citrus flavours does lead to a more bold experience – which could correlate to an individual’s outgoing nature.
After giving my thumbs up to Steve, it was then onto my next dish…
My original favourite, the prawn kare lomen.
I must admit, after feasting on my prawn raisukaree for some time – my belly had stopped rumbling and I was feeling ever so slightly stuffed. But how, could I not tuck into this…?!
Once again, the prawns were cooked to perfection – deliciously juicy and tender.
Ultimately, the prawn kare lomen is basically ramen noodles coated in a spicy coconut and lemongrass soup which is topped with mini prawns, crunchy cucumber and bean sprouts. The dish is then garnished with fresh coriander and lime.
The main feature of this dish is the unique pattern of flavour and textures. The hot spice of the coconut and lemongrass soup is counteracted by the cool shavings of cucumber, coriander and lime. Steve advised that this dish can give the best of both worlds when it comes to flavour – it has the sharp, spicy kick of the sauce and then another bite offers the complete opposite effect with a cooling sensation.
Whilst we were waiting for our next dishes, Kate received a plate full of vibrantly colourful food and we were all so intrigued. Sensing our eyes pondering over what this dish was, Steve asked the kitchen to cook another firecracker.
Firecracker? Yep, you bet it was…
The dome of sticky, steamed rice was surrounded with strips of tender chicken. The chicken was stir-fried with trusty wagamama staples including mangetout, red hot chillies, red and green peppers, spring and white onions. The colourful vegetables and chicken were marinated in a fiery sweet and sour sauce which gave the dish a super, strong kick.
As we were making our way through the firecracker (with numerous glasses of water), Christy informed us that particularly hot curries are generally most liked by people who are real trill seekers. Apparently the spicy sensations boost endorphins in our system, which lead to an exciting rush and ultimately satisfies those who like a challenge.
Now don’t get me wrong, I like a good challenge. But unfortunately, the firecracker got the best of me and I failed that particular one…!
I believe the dishes which I experienced, incorporated a variety of muted flavours and ones which really pushed boundaries – perhaps a little too far with my firecracker!
Learning from Christy about how we are drawn to food and what this can signify about our personalities, was extremely interesting. All of the dishes ticked my tastebuds and I loved seeing how varied the food is at wagamama. Even by using the same types of ingredients, the bases of the dish really elude to amazing flavour sensations which can lead to entirely new food experiences….
And that my friends, is the way of wagamama – simple food, with epic flavours.