Doria is a Japanese-invented gratin. The creamy béchamel sauce with prawns is broiled with cheese on top to make a golden crust. Underneath the béchamel sauce is a flavoursome butter rice. Prawn Doria (Japanese Rice Gratin) is a gorgeous looking dish and so tasty.
Doria is a rice gratin but the way it is made is a bit different to the usual Western-style rice gratin. Instead of mixing the ingredients with the sauce and broiling to form a golden crust on top, béchamel sauce is poured on the rice, then broiled to brown the top.
It is uncertain where the name of this dish came from. The name does not resemble the dish at all.
The most believable story is that the dish was invented by a French chef in Yokohama, Japan when he was requested to cook a dish for a sick customer. It was around 1930. The dish was named after the nobleman from Genoa Republic, Admiral Andrea Doria. Why the chef named the dish after the admiral is another long story.
What’s in my Prawn Doria (Japanese Rice Gratin)
There are two distinct components to this dish – butter rice and béchamel sauce with prawns.
The butter rice is made up of the following:
- Cooked rice
- Finely diced carrot – peas and/or corn kernels are good too
- Finely diced onion
- Salt and pepper
You don’t have to have onion and carrot in the rice but having a bit of colour is a good thing since the béchamel sauce is also white. Onion gives a good flavour to the rice.
The béchamel sauce is very similar to the sauce used in my recipe, Chicken Macaroni Gratin but chopped onion and mushrooms are sautéed to make the sauce. It consists of:
- Diced onion
- Sliced mushrooms
- Milk – full cream or reduced fat
- Prawn broth – made from the prawn shells and heads
- Chicken stock cube
- Salt and pepper
- Prawns – sautéed before adding to the béchamel sauce
- Grated parmesan cheese – to brown the surface of the white sauce
I bought fresh prawns in shells. To maximise the prawn flavour in the béchamel sauce, I made a prawn broth from the discarded shells. I made it by simply boiling the shells in some water for 5 minutes or so and putting them through a sieve. Since the broth is used to make the béchamel sauce, I removed the blackish organ inside the head to maintain the clarity of the broth.
If you are using peeled prawns, substitute prawn broth with water. You could also replace prawn broth and chicken stock cube with chicken broth.
Instead of prawns, you can use other proteins such as chicken, mixed seafood or salmon. You can also replace the protein with sliced vegetables that go well with béchamel sauce. Zucchini, eggplant, capsicum, varieties of mushrooms or corn would be my pick.
Steps to Make Prawn Doria
You also need two separate sets of steps to cook Doria – butter rice and béchamel sauce with prawns. Regardless of the protein/vegetables you choose to go into the béchamel sauce, the steps are pretty much the same.
- Sauté onion and carrot, and make butter rice (the first 3 photos above).
- Sauté onion and mushrooms, and make béchamel sauce (the 2nd row photos above).
- Cook prawns and add them to the béchamel sauce (left 2 photos on the last row above).
- Pour the béchamel sauce over the butter rice (the last photo above).
- Broil with grated cheese on top.
You might usually make butter rice by sautéing the rice in butter, then cooking it just like you cook rice. You can make butter rice this way if you wish, but the majority of Japanese people make butter rice my way for Doria.
The method of making béchamel sauce is slightly different to the way I made the sauce in my recipe, Chicken Macaroni Gratin. The amount of flour added to the butter in Doria is much less than the béchamel sauce for Chicken Macaroni Gratin. The flour mixture is wetter so you don’t need to cook it for a long time before adding milk.
The broiling time required is only few minutes. Everything is already cooked and it is just to get the sauce bubbling around the edges and the top golden.
Doria is one of my children’s favourite dishes (well, they have many favourite Japanese dishes!). It is a Japanese-style Western food, ‘yōshoku’ (洋食) with a rich flavour.
Some yōshoku dishes such as Tonkatsu became representative Japanese dishes even if they originated from Western dishes. But when it comes to Doria, even Japanese people think it is a pure Western dish. I hope you try this.
Doria is a Japanese-invented gratin. Pour béchamel sauce with prawns over the butter rice, then brown the surface with cheese on top. Prawn Doria (Rice Gratin) is a gorgeous looking dish and so tasty.
Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
- 160g / 5.6oz fresh prawns peeled, deveined and tails intact if possible (note 1)
- 4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
- 20g / 0.7oz butter
- ½ onion (medium) finely diced
- 70g / 2.5oz mushrooms thinly sliced (note 2)
- 3 tbsp flour
- 350ml / 0.7pt milk
- 100ml / 3.4oz prawn broth (or water, note 3)
- ½ cube chicken stock (note 3)
- ½ tsp salt
- A pinch of white pepper (or black pepper)
- 2 cups cooked rice (loosely packed 2 cups)
- 1 tbsp butter
- 30g / 1.1oz carrot finely diced to about 5mm / 3⁄16"
- 30g / 1.1oz onion finely diced
- Salt and pepper
Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat.
Add carrot and onion, sauté for a minute or two until the onion becomes semi-transparent.
Add the rice and mix, breaking up the lumps. Season with salt and pepper.
When the rice grains are well coated in butter and the vegetables are mixed evenly, transfer the butter rice to two individual gratin baking dishes.
Heat the frying pan used for the butter rice over medium high heat. Add a small amount of butter if the pan is too dry.
Add prawns and cook for a minute, then turn them over and cook further 1 minute.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
Add onion and mushrooms, sauté until the onion becomes transparent.
Reduce the heat to low, add flour and mix well for a couple of minutes.
Add about 1/3 of milk to the pan and mix well to incorporate until lump free (you may need to whisk it). Add the remaining milk, prawn broth, chicken stock cube, salt and pepper.
Increase the heat to medium. As the sauce heats up, it thickens. Stir regularly at first, then constantly as it thickens.
Once the Sauce is thick enough (note 5), transfer the prawns to the béchamel sauce. Mix and remove from the stove immediately.
Preheat broiler (note 6).
Pour the béchamel sauce over the butter rice in the baking dishes, covering the rice completely.
Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the sauce.
Place the baking dishes on the rack not too close to the heat (about 10cm / 4” away). Bake for a few minutes or until the sauce starts bubbling around the edges and the top becomes golden. Serve immediately. (note 6)
1. I used medium size prawns, 12 prawns in total. Smaller prawns are OK too.
If you only have large prawns, I’d recommend cutting them half or even smaller so that many prawn pieces are scattered in the béchamel sauce.
Instead of prawns, you can use chicken pieces, seafood mix or fish fillet pieces such as salmon.
You can also replace prawns with vegetables such as zucchini, capsicum, eggplant and varieties of mushrooms.
2. I used button mushrooms but you can use other mushrooms including Asian mushrooms.
3. I bought fresh prawns for today’s dish and boiled the heads and shells to make the broth. I removed blackish/brownish organ inside the heads so that the broth became clear.
You don’t have to have prawn broth but it gives the béchamel sauce a stronger prawn flavour.
Alternatively, replace 100ml prawn broth and ½ stock cube with 100ml / 3.4oz chicken broth.
4. Peas and corn kernels are also good alternatives.
5. Test: draw a path with finger on the back of the wooden spoon. if it stays, it's thick enough.
6. If you don’t have a broiler, heat the oven to 230°C / 446°F and place the dishes on the highest rack. Bake for 6-8 minutes.
7. Nutrition per serving.
serving: 603g calories: 612kcal fat: 22g (34%) saturated fat: 13g (65%) trans fat: 0.7g polyunsaturated fat: 1.4g monounsaturated fat: 5.9g cholesterol: 162mg (54%) sodium: 1655mg (69%) potassium: 751mg (21%) carbohydrates: 73g (24%) dietary fibre: 2.5g (10%) sugar: 4.1g protein: 29g vitamin a: 71% vitamin c: 11% calcium: 31% iron: 18%