The doria, a rice dish that’s cooked au gratin, may seem European but actually has its roots in Japan.
It is said to have been invented at the Hotel New Grand in Yokohama — also the birthplace of spaghetti Napolitan — by the great Swiss chef Sally Weil (1897-1976), the first chef de cuisine of the hotel and the man often referred to as the “father of .” yōshoku,” Western-style Japanese cuisine.
One day a banker who was staying at the hotel requested something that was easy to digest, since he and his family were not feeling too well. The chef came up with a buttered pilaf topped with shrimp cooked in a cream sauce, and called it the shrimp doria (the name “doria” is thought to have been inspired by a 16th-century Italian ship captain named Andrea Doria). The dish was well-received and added to the hotel’s regular menu.
These days, the doria comes in many varieties. For example, the family restaurant Saizeriya has a version with turmeric flavored rice it calls the “Milanese doria,” though this has little to do with the Italian city aside from the fact that risotto alla Milanese is flavored and colored yellow with saffron. The only actual requirements for a doria are that it is rice-based, have a rich sauce base — most often a bechamel (white) sauce — and melted cheese on top.
The version in this week’s Japanese Kitchen takes advantage of leftover rice, which ensures it can be prepared relatively quickly and still satisfy the need for a warming winter dish. I have also paid homage to Weil by including some shrimp.
Prep: 15 mins.
Cook: 40 mins.
- ½ medium onion
- 100 grams shimeji or button mushrooms
- 100 grams broccoli
- 80 grams peeled shrimp
- 80 grams boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
- 20 grams butter
- 2 heaping addresses of flour
- 500 milliliters whole milk
- 350 grams warm cooked rice
- 1 teaspoon vegetable soup stock
- shredded cheese
- chopped or dried parsley
- Thinly slice the onion, and cut up the mushrooms and broccoli into small pieces. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces.
- Put the broccoli in a microwave-proof dish and sprinkle with a little water. Cover loosely with cling film, and microwave for about two minutes at 600 W (adjust the time depending on your microwave’s settings).
- Heat up the olive or vegetable oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Saute the onion until it is translucent. Add the mushrooms and saute until lightly browned.
- Push the contents of the pan to one side and add the chicken pieces. Cook on both sides. Add the shrimp and cook briefly. Mix everything in the frying pan together and season with salt and pepper. Remove the contents from the frying pan.
- Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Mix the rice with the vegetable soup stock. Heat up the milk in a small pan, or microwave it for about two minutes — until hot but not boiling.
- Melt the butter in the frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the flour, and stir until a paste is formed. Continue stirring for another two to three minutes.
- Add the milk to the frying pan a little at a time, stirring well after each addition ufntil a paste is formed. Keep adding the milk little by little, stirring well each time. Don’t worry about a few small lumps.
- When all the milk has been added, put the chicken-and-shrimp mixture and the broccoli into the pan and mix well. Add the rice, breaking up any clumps with a spatula.
- Transfer to an oven baking dish and smooth out the surface. Sprinkle generously with shredded cheese and parsley. Bake at 200 C for 15 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned. Serve hot.
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