A Taste of Southeast Asia from chef | Aqua Expeditions

A Taste of Southeast Asia from Consulting Chef – David Thompson

Having brought you a taste of what guests will be able to see and explore while on board the Aqua Mekong, we wanted to head back on deck with an update about the cuisine that Consulting Chef, David Thompson, has custom designed for our guests on the soon-to-launch vessel.


Awarded the first-ever Michelin star for a restaurant serving Southeast Asian food, David Thompson’s Bangkok restaurant, Nahm, is ranked at the very top of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants in Asia. With his reputation for first-class cuisine, David is working with us to create an exclusive menu for Aquimage002a Mekong guests, combining the culinary traditions of Southeast Asia with the freshest ingredients, sourced from local Mekong River markets and regional producers.


The extensive menu on board the Aqua Mekong will include local ingredients such as Khmer Kampot Pepper, Mekong River Prawns and Catfish, as well as fruits and vegetables from the markets of Saigon, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Among the many dishes on the bespoke menu are River Prawns with Ginger, Shallots, Tamarind and Palm Sugar served on Betel Leaves, and Cashew Nut Pudding with Coconut Cream.

To whet your appetite for Thompson’s delicious cooking, here is a sample recipe for one of his signature dishes soon to be served on board this luxurious Mekong River cruiseship:


Makes 10 leaves, enough for 2 or 3 people.



  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 coriander root
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground peanuts
  • 1 tablespoon toasted shredded coconut
  • Pinch of Thai shrimp paste
  • Good pinch of ground dried prawns


  • ½ cup palm sugar
  • 100ml water
  • 1 tablespoon toasted coconut
  • 1 tablespoon small toasted peanuts
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind water


  • 2 tablespoons prepared miang sauce
  • 1 tablespoon roasted grated coconut
  • Pinch of finely diced lime
  • 1 tablespoon diced young ginger
  • 2 tablespoons diced red shallots
  • Handful of coriander leaves
  • ½ finely sliced scud
  • 10 prawns, peeled, blanched then sliced
  • 10 pieces pomelo flesh
  • 10 cleaned ‘betel’ leaves



First, make the paste: gradually pound the paste ingredients together using a pestle and mortar, adding one by one, until quite smooth.

For the sauce, heat sugar with water. When dissolved, simmer for a minute or so before adding the paste and simmering until the sauce is quite thick and the fragrances of ginger, galangal and shrimp paste are evident. Make sure that you do not simmer it for too long – only a few minutes or so!

Now add the fish sauce, the shredded Thai coconut and ground peanuts, and simmer for a minute. Then add the tamarind water but do not simmer for too long after the tamarind has been added or it will scorch. Remove from the heat. When cooled a little, check the seasoning: it should taste sweet, rich, sour and salty.

At the very last moment, combine the remaining Miang ingredients (prawns, pomelo etc.) into the sauce and serve on the ‘betel’ leaves.


And P.S…. just for foodies, don’t forget to watch for the results of the latest list of the Top 50 Best Restaurants in Latin America to be announced in Peru on September 3rd and check out the Mistura Food Festival happening at the Costa Verde of Magdalena del Mar between September 5-14th.