Seafood doria is an oven-baked dish made with juicy shrimp cooked with seasoned rice, then topped with a creamy homemade béchamel sauce and sprinkled with cheese. For me, this is one of the ultimate comfort dishes and every layer is packed with flavor!
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What is doria?
Doria is a popular Japanese oven-baked dish consisting of seasoned rice topped with béchamel sauce and grated cheese. It's most commonly made with seafood or meat, and there are many kinds and flavors.
It is commonly found in Japanese family restaurants, "yoshoku" (Western) style restaurants and is even sold as ready-meals in supermarkets and convenience stores. It's also an easy dish to make at home and great for meal prep. I often make doria in advance and store it in the fridge or freezer, that way I've got an easy and convenient meal that I can throw in the oven anytime!
History of Doria
Doria is often thought to be a European dish, but in fact, the dish was born in Japan. It was invented around 1930 by Sally Weil, a Swiss chef who was the first head chef of the New Grand Hotel in Yokohama.
Weil improvised the dish for foreign customers using buttered rice, creamed shrimp, béchamel sauce and cheese, and then baked it in the oven, creating the first prototype of doria. It was a huge hit and even became one of Hotel New Grand's specialties.
It is said Weil named the dish after the "Doria family" a prestigious aristocrat family from Genoa, particularly "Andrea Doria" who was a admiral in the Navy in the 16th century.
Since it's creation in the 1930s, doria has become a well loved dish and is served in cafes, restaurants and homes across Japan.
Different Flavors of Doria
The most standard sauce used for doria is béchamel sauce, but you can find different types of doria depending on the ingredients and the type of sauce used. Here are the three most common:
- Seafood Doria - Today's recipe and the original form of doria. While shrimp is the most common ingredient used to make seafood doria, it is also common to use other ingredients such as mussels, scallops or squid.
- Meat Doria - If meat sauce is applied instead of or in addition to béchamel sauce, it is called "meat doria". Meat sauce is usually made from ground beef or pork in a tomato based sauce. The famous Saizeriya's Milano style doria is the most well known type of meat doria.
- Curry Doria - If curry sauce is added instead of béchamel sauce, it becomes "curry doria". At CoCo Ichibanya, a curry house chain in Japan, you can have curry doria with eggplant and spinach or hamburg curry doria. It's like many dishes in one!
Ingredients to make Seafood Doria
Seafood doria is made up of three main layers. The rice (seafood pilaf), the béchamel sauce and the cheese. Since this recipe requires quite a lot of ingredients, I'll be breaking the lists up by layers.
Rice (Seafood Pilaf)
- Olive oil - for frying and subtle flavoring.
- Garlic - Finely diced and fried in the oil helps carry garlic flavor throughout the dish. In this case, I don't recommend using premade garlic paste or garlic powder.
- Shrimp - shrimp is the most common seafood choice for seafood doria, but it's also fine to use things like mussels, squid, scallops or a mixture.
- Button mushrooms - adds an earthy flavor and pleasant texture.
- Lemon juice - the acidity and zesty flavor highlights the best parts of the seafood and brings balance to the dish.
- White wine - the zesty notes of white wine compliment the briny flavors in fish and seafood. I recommend using a dry white wine such as Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc or unoaked Chardonnay. If you don't want to use alcohol in your cooking, you can substitute with a little extra lemon juice.
- Soy sauce - for saltiness and umami. If you want to know more about soy sauce used for Japanese cooking, please see my 20 Most Useful Condiments and Seasonings for Japanese Cooking post.
- Fresh parsley - another perfect partner for seafood that adds a vibrant peppery flavour.
- Unsalted butter - adds richness to the rice. Unsalted makes it easier to control the saltiness in your cooking. If you use salted, reduce the salt or soy sauce amount accordingly.
- Onion - for sweetness and texture.
- Cooked rice - Japanese short-grain white rice is typically used to make doria, but generally most kinds of rice work for this recipe. I recommend using rice that has been cooked and chilled, since freshly cooked rice tends to lose its texture and get a bit mushy when fried.
- Chicken stock cube - I use Knorr's chicken stock cube.
- Cumin powder - adds depth and warmth to the rice.
- Cinnamon powder - a powerful flavor, just a touch for extra depth!
- Paprika powder - adds a slightly fruity and sweet flavor.
- Turmeric powder - adds color and a slightly bitter flavor.
- Ketchup - for sweetness and balance.
Béchamel sauce is a white sauce and considered the mother of all French sauces. While you could always buy a premade jar at the supermarket, it's suprisingly cheap and easy to make at home! In my recipe I use:
- Unsalted butter - to make a roux.
- Plain flour - to make a roux.
- Whole milk - no cream required, just whole milk to give it a richy and creamy texture and flavor.
- Chicken stock cube - again, I use Knorr's chicken stock cube here to create harmony between the sauce and rice.
- Nutmeg - just a pinch to give the sauce more depth.
The final step before putting your doria in the oven is to sprinkle it with cheese. Any kind of melting cheese works, for example:
I like to bake the doria on the top shelf of the oven at a high temperature to make the cheese turn a bit brown and crispy!
Tip: If you want an extra cheesy taste, add a sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese too!
How to make Japanese Seafood Doria Step by Step
Here I will explain step by step how to make each layer of rich and flavorful Japanese seafood doria. You can also see the simplified steps (also with pictures) in the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
How to make the pilaf
Heat a pan on low to medium-low and add the olive oil and finely diced garlic. It's important to use a low heat here to prevent burning, burnt garlic will make the dish bitter.
Once the garlic becomes fragrant, add the seafood of your choice and the sliced button mushrooms. Stir fry for a few minutes until the mushrooms are slightly softened.
Add white wine and lemon juice to the pan, and simmer until the liquid is almost gone. If it's taking too long to reduce, feel free to increase the heat slightly.
Season with soy sauce and freshly chopped parsley and stir fry for about 1 minute. Once done, remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
Take a wok and heat it on medium. Add butter, and once the butter has melted, add finely diced onion. Fry until softened and slightly translucent.
Next, add the chilled rice and stir fry them together for a few minutes until the rice is warmed through.
Add the cumin, cinnamon, paprika, turmeric and crushed chicken stock cube. Mix until all the spices are evenly distributed throughout the rice.
Add the ketchup and mix well.
Add the contents of the frying pan to the wok and mix until the seafood is evenly distributed throughout the rice.
Remove the wok from the heat and set aside for now.
How to make béchamel sauce
Melt the butter in a sauce pan over a low heat.
Add the flour and mix thoroughly to make a smooth roux.
Pour half of the milk into the saucepan along with the salt and crushed chicken stock cube. Whisk until smooth.
Once the mixture becomes a thick ball of paste, add the other half of the milk and whisk vigorously to break up the lumps. Lift the pan off the heat from time to time to prevent the sauce from thickening too fast.
Once the mixture is smooth and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, turn off the heat and add a pinch of nutmeg. Whisk once more and remove the pan from the heat.
Assemble and bake
Preheat the oven to 220C/420F. While you wait for it to heat up, assemble the doria. Take an oven proof dish and make a layer of rice.
Coat the rice with an even layer of béchamel sauce.
Next, sprinkle with a layer of choice of your choice.
Bake on the top shelf of the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the top is slightly browned.
Tips and Tricks
Here are a few of my favorite tips and tricks to get perfect Seafood Doria every time!
- Flavor the oil with garlic, this will carry flavor throughout the whole cooking process.
- Cook the seafood and rice separately, then combine them. This will stop the flavors from becoming blurred together.
- Use chilled rice, this will help the grains keep their shape without becoming soft and mushy.
- When making béchamel sauce, use a low heat so that it doesn't thicken too quickly.
- Use a whisk to make sure it's smooth.
- Top with a mixture of meltable cheese and hard cheese for the best texture and flavor.
- If the top starts to brown too quickly, move it to a lower shelf or cover with foil and lower the oven temperature slightly.
- If the cheese doesn't brown, turn up the heat and cook it a little longer.
Seafood doria is a great dish for making in advance and then you can just put it in the oven when it's convenient for you. If you're baking it straight away, I recommend 220°C/420°F for 15-20 minutes on the top shelf to encourage browning on the cheese.
If you decide to save it for later, keep the assembled doria in the fridge and use within 1-2 days. You might need to lower the oven temperature slightly and cook it a bit longer to ensure it's warmed all the way through. I recommend about 190-200°C (375-392°F) for about 20-25 minutes.
Alternatively, you can freeze it unbaked and use it within 1 month. Just keep in mind that you will need to bake it for longer when cooking from frozen. (About 50-60 minutes at 180°C/356°F) If the top starts to brown too quickly, cover it with foil to prevent burning.
I hope you enjoy this rich and flavorful Japanese seafood doria recipe! If you try it out, I'd love if you could spare a moment to let me know what you thought by giving a review and star rating in the comments below. It's also helpful to share any adjustments you made to the recipe with other readers. Thank you so much!
Seafood Doria (Japanese Rice Gratin)
Pilaf (Seasoned Rice)
- ½ tbsp olive oil
- 1 garlic clove - finely diced
- 200 g shrimp or mixed seafood - cut into bitesize pieces
- 3 brown button mushroom(s) - finely sliced
- 2 tbsp white wine
- ½ tsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley - finely chopped
- ½ tbsp unsalted butter
- 100 g yellow onion(s) - finely diced
- 250 g cooked Japanese short-grain rice
- ½ knorr chicken stock cube - use the other half for béchamel sauce
- ⅛ tsp cumin powder
- ⅛ tsp cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp paprika
- ⅛ tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp tomato ketchup
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 200 ml whole milk
- ½ chicken stock cube
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- shredded melting cheese - cheddar, gouda, mozzarella, etc.
- hard cheese (optional) - parmesan, pecorino, etc.
- parsley - dried or fresh, optional garnish
- Heat a pan on medium/medium-low. Once heated, add ½ tbsp olive oil and 1 garlic clove (finely diced).
- Once the garlic becomes fragrant, add 200 g shrimp or mixed seafood and 3 brown button mushroom(s) (sliced). Stir fry for a few minutes.
- Pour in 2 tbsp white wine, ½ tsp lemon juice and fry until the liquid is almost gone.
- Add ½ tsp soy sauce and 1 tbsp fresh parsley . Stir fry for 1 minute.
- Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Cut a knorr stock cube in half and crush it with the back of a knife. We will add this to the fried rice later. (Save the other half for the béchamel sauce.)
- Heat a large wok on medium and melt ½ tbsp unsalted butter. Add the 100 g yellow onion(s) (finely diced) and fry until softened and slightly translucent.
- Next, add 250 g cooked Japanese short-grain rice and stir fry for a few minutes or until the rice is warmed through.
- Add the spices (⅛ tsp cumin powder, ⅛ tsp cinnamon, ⅛ tsp paprika and ⅛ tsp turmeric) and ½ knorr chicken stock cube you crushed earlier, and stir fry until well combined.
- Once the spices are well distributed, add 1 tbsp tomato ketchup and mix well.
- Add the contents of the other pan (seafood and mushrooms) to the rice and stir fry everything together until the ingredients are well distributed throughout the rice.
- Remove from the heat and set aside for later.
- Take a saucepan and melt 2 tbsp unsalted butter butter over a low heat.
- Once it's melted, add 2 tbsp all-purpose flour and mix thoroughly until smooth to make a roux.
- Add half of the 200 ml whole milk (100ml), the other ½ chicken stock cube and ¼ tsp salt. Whisk until smooth.
- When it becomes a thick ball of paste, add the remaining milk one half at a time, and break up the lumps with a whisk. (If it's thickening too quickly, lift the pan off the heat from time to time to slow down the cooking process.)
- Continue to whisk until smooth. Once the sauce has thickened to a consistency that would cover the back of a spoon, turn off the heat and add 1 pinch nutmeg.
- Whisk once more and remove it from the heat.
- Preheat the oven to 220 °C.
- Make a layer of rice in an oven-proof dish.
- Coat evenly with béchamel sauce.
- Sprinkle generously with shredded melting cheese and/or hard cheese (optional)of your choice.
- Bake on the top shelf for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is browned.
- Sprinkle with parsley and enjoy!