One of my passions is Irish things. Some of you may have seen my Facebook post about U2. Yes, I love them since the Edge had a mop of hair, and Bono and Larry looked like 10 years old. I also love pretty much all other kind of Irish music too, even the kind used for traditional dancing which some people find to be repetitive. Irish music makes me feel happy and calm. When I visited Ireland, I felt I came back home – even more than when I go back to Japan. Probably too much baggage associated with Tokyo! I think I was Irish in my previous life.
My love of Irish things even took me to a couple of months of Irish dancing lessons. It doesn’t look like much of a work out because the only things that are moving are the dancers’ legs, but Boy, it’s a major work out! After one jig or reel, I was huffing and puffing! After I learned a few different pieces, my teacher decided to move the location from Ft. Mason, walking distance from our home, and in the same building as our print-making class I was taking back to back, to more of an Irish American neighborhood. Her marketing decision resulted in the loss of one student (me) and probably a gain of many students that fit much closer to her ideal target market profile. So our (me and my teacher’s) dream of me dancing with these curly blond wigs and these elaborate stitched outfits never came true. Maybe it’s a good thing. Or maybe I should make my silly dream come true on one of these Halloweens.
Anyway, when we had a chance to go to Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL, I insisted to my husband that we HAVE TO go to Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant at Downtown Disney. They have an Irish band and dancing every night! My inner Irish wanted to have some comforting Irish food and most of all, Irish music. The chef cooked for U2 and Queen (not Freddie Mercury, but Elizabeth II.) That was good enough of a validation for me.
I was in heaven there, because not only the band excellent, they played for hours, just like in Ireland. (My husband had to drag me out because we had a very early morning flight.) Many photos of my favorite Irish (and non-Irish) celebrities like U2, Pierce Brosnan, Thin-Lizzy, Sting, etc. adorned their walls leading to the bathroom. Love this sense of humor! Perfect thing to look at when you are waiting for your turn to pee after many pints of Guiness! No worries, their bath room accommodates many people, and you can even continue to listen to the fine music!!
OK. Food. Irish food is not known as the best food in the world. Maybe the reputation is getting better now, compared with when I was there in 95. Yet, maybe because I’m Irish in my previous life(?), I thought most of the food was very good and satisfying, even though not fancy.
One of the dishes we chose at the restaurant was called “It’s not the bleeding chowder!” and it was really delicious! The inside was super dark, so I couldn’t see what was in it. Along with the loads of seafood on top, I identified something green most likely leeks, yet since it’s an Irish restaurant, there may have been cabbage, especially since they DO have frothy colcannon (potato & cabbage) soup called Colpucchino. They use smoked fish as a base, and bit of bacon (I think), and that gave the chowder (or “not the chowder”) an interesting twist.
It was good enough to inspire me to make similar chowder at home using smoked trout I can get from Costco.
So when I found a pack of heavy cream that was near the expiration date one rainy evening, I realized that we haven’t had the “not the Chowder” thing for a long time. I also had some sauteed leek. Yes, the green things I identified in the chowder. That’d save quite a bit of time and headache. I didn’t have all the fresh seafood, but I always have some shrimp and scallops in the freezer! That should work!
What I didn’t realize until I tasted it was that I forgot the smoked fish.
None the less it was very tasty.
As I ate it, and tasted the difference between the usual version with smoked fish and the one without, I realized that this would be perfect to make seafood doria!
That’s right! It’s not named “It’s not bleeding chowder!” for no reason. It’ll be DORIA tomorrow!
Doria is something we Japanese love. It’s basically buttered rice in oval baking dish, covered with white sauce with either chicken or seafood in it, and baked with cheeses on top. It’s a perfect fall to winter dish. It’s quintessential Japanese Yoshoku (Western Food), Japanized French/Italian influenced food.
So two days later (I prefer not to eat leftovers and their spin-offs back to back for nutritional reasons), I decided to do something unthinkable for those with conventional minds. I wanted to experiment what I would end up with a minimum effort. So rather than making buttered rice in a skillet, I made buttered rice by just mixing butter, salt and generous amount pepper into some microwaved hot rice from the freezer. And I poured a generous amount of chowder, topped it with grated cheese and baked it in the toaster oven until it was golden brown.
To compare, I made one with cold chowder on hot rice, another with heated chowder on hot rice. The result? Taste-wise, negligible. However, if you heat the chowder first, the dish will be hot and bubbly faster. But you need to add the time to heat it first, so both end up taking about the same…
Of course, if I made a proper doria with real buttered rice, sauteed aromatics and seafood, and white sauce, bake it with cheese, and compare it with the short cut version side by side, I might have been able to tell the difference. But I was so smart! I didn’t! So I was able to taste the quick version as it is, without anything to affect my judgment.
At the beginning, my husband couldn’t even tell how I made it. (that’s always a good thing. You want your family to think you made it from scratch, you are just a wizard in the kitchen whipping up tasty meals like this in no time!)
And the verdict was a solid A, and I was stoked to find out that I can make doria without making white sauce.
Of course, if you have some sauteed shrimp, bite size chicken etc, you can use that leftover, make a quick white sauce and do a proper version of doria too.
Either way, something that used to take close to 1 hour and a lot of work, is now done in pretty much in no time. Your child can even make it…
Tomorrow, I’ll post my version of “It’s not the bleeding chowder!”, followed by How to make doria from chowder, then how to make doria from sauteed leftovers.
So stay tuned…