Seafood doria is a delicious oven baked dish. Juicy shrimp cooked with seasoned rice then topped with a creamy homemade béchamel sauce and sprinkled with cheese. It's the perfect dish to make ahead of time!
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What is doria?
Doria is a popular Japanese oven baked dish consisting of rice topped with béchamel sauce and grated cheese. It's most commonly made with seafood or meat, there are all kinds of doria!
Doria is commonly found in family restaurants, "yoshoku" (Western) style restaurants and even available as ready meals in supermarkets and convenience stores. It's also a great dish to make at home!
I like to make a big batch of doria in advance, that way I've got an easy and convenient meal that only needs 15-20 minutes in the oven!
History of doria
Doria is often thought to be a European dish, but in fact the dish was born in Japan, invented by Sally Weil, a Swiss chef who was the first head chef of the New Grand Hotel in Yokohama.
At the time, creamed shrimp, a popular dish in Europe, was poured over pilaf, topped with béchamel sauce and cheese, and baked in the oven to create doria.
Weil basically invented doria by putting shrimp cream on top of pilaf.
So even though Milano style meat doria is popular because of the Japanese chain restaurant Saizeriya, the original form of doria is seafood (shrimp) doria.
Types of doria available in Japan
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.
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.
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 hamburger curry doria. It's like many dishes in one!
Doria with shrimp on top of pilaf is called "seafood doria". While shrimp is the most common ingredient, seafood doria doesn't need to be restricted to only using shrimp.
It's also common to use other seafood such as mussels, scallops or squid. These options are great for people that prefer a stronger seafood flavour. Alternatively, this recipe also works well with chicken!
Seafood doria is made up of three main layers. The rice (seafood pilaf), the béchamel sauce and the cheese. Let's go over each layer in detail!
Rice (Seafood Pilaf)
Firstly, doria is always made with Japanese style rice. However, in this case, I'd say any kind of rice works for doria so if it's easier or cheaper to use long-grain, that's also fine.
When making any type of fried rice, it's recommended to use chilled rice. Freshly cooked rice tends to lose its texture and get a bit mushy when fried. My recommendation is to use day old rice that has been kept in the refrigerator if possible!
I like to fry the seafood in a separate pan and then add it to the rice after it's been seasoned. This way, I can ensure everything is evenly cooked and flavoured.
I bring out the flavours of the seafood using things like parsley, white wine and lemon juice, then I season the rice with chicken buillon, cumin, paprika, turmeric and cinnamon. These delicious spices really bring out the flavours in the seafood.
Béchamel sauce is a white sauce and considered the mother of all French sauces. It's made with butter, flour and milk and then seasoned with salt and other spices depending on the dish.
My top two tips for making béchamel sauce are:
- Use a low heat so that it doesn't thicken too quickly.
- Use a whisk so that it's extra smooth.
I like to season my béchamel sauce with half a knorr chicken stock cube and a pinch of nutmeg to make it extra flavourful!
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!
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. I bake it at 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.
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 190°C/375°F) If the top starts to brown too quickly you can cover it with foil to prevent burning.