Maryland Delights, Act III : Old Bay Seasoning

Maryland Delights, Act III : Old Bay Seasoning

And this is the third and last installment of the Tale of the Maryland Delights which Alicia sent me. The last item is a tin of Old Bay Seasoning, without which, I am told, no Southern kitchen is quite complete.

It is a mix of celery salt, mustard, red pepper, black pepper, bay leaves, cloves, allspice, ginger, mace, cardamom, cinnamon and paprika, very well balanced and somewhat spicy when you taste it as is. But if you look closely at the ingredient list, you will notice that it says spices, including the ones I just listed : so haha! there may very well be a secret ingredient, for it is, in fact, a secret recipe, developped 60 years ago by one Gustav Brunn, a German immigrant.

I adore the old-fashioned tin it comes in, which fits so nicely in one’s hand, and has three (yes, three!) different pourers : would you like a light sprinkle, a heavier shake or a good sturdy pour? Just open the right lid, and let the tin work its magic!

It is said to work wonders on grilled or steamed seafood, but also on burgers, veggies, chicken, salads, dips — well, just about anything! The tin even sports a few nice and simple recipes, for crab cakes, steamed shrimp, steamed crabs, and a spicy marinade for chicken.

And look how well the tin is settling in on my spice shelf! It has already started making friends, and I do sense a great friendship developping between the Old Bay Seasoning and the Piment d’Espelette.

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  • Amy C.

    Speaking of fun seasonings: I’m a big fan of *Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Salt* – a product of South Carolina. It is primarily a coarse ground salt most noticably flavored with onion and garlic powders but also contains some anonymous spices…we can only guess what those are.

  • boreal

    Everyone must have old bay! Especially for any crab dish. mmm mmm. Also try it on salmon burgers for something unusual… especially good if you’re low carbing and wrapping it in lettuce with some arugula and the usual burger toppings one likes.

  • Hey Clotilde, When my wife and I first moved to Baltimore (now in Columbus, OH), our first gift was a can of Old Bay. I think it’s great for steamed shrimp.

    In a pinch, I also use it as a rub for pork when I barbecue ribs . . . mmm ribs. And it’s only 7 am here.

  • Old Bay is great on fish, but it’s fantastic on roasted potatos. Mix oil, A LOT of the old bay, garlic powder, salt, pepper and paprika, toss over chunks of potato and then roast. Yummy!!!

  • Maryanne

    Bonjour Clotilde! Old Bay is essential in New England kitchens also, including the college kitchen that I manage. I use it at home to flavor cornmeal/flour mixes for fried fish, flour for fried chicken, in bread baking for a little kick and in salad dressings. When you are done with the tin, fill with soil and plant a few nasturtium seeds for your kitchen window sill!

  • redbeard

    Ah, Old Bay. The very essence of Maryland cuisine. I have many fond memories sitting at a rickety wooden table covered with brown butcher’s paper and heaps of steamed blue crabs crusted with Old Bay. It sadly doesn’t work quite as well for Cancer crabs much to my west coast chagrin, but it’s still tasty. I think it’s a mixture of sweet meat and savory spicy mysteriously Baltimore Old Bay that is the key. Hence why it’s good with barbaque sorts of dishes. It’s also amazing on fried potatoes. That, and a periodic favorite in my house would be to boil some cheap beer, throw a steamer over the simmering liquid and toss in a mess of shrimp which we’d rolled in old bay. Steam, then peel n’ eat. Peel n’ eat shrimp like that were a popular special at neighborhood corner joints all around Baltimore.

  • Rachel

    I’m sure some people would call this blasphemous, but I make some pretty mean mock crab cakes using zucchini and Old Bay! And I agree that’s it’s great over potatoes too.

  • melinda

    we use in place of fajita seasoning for stir fry with garlic powder & olive oil…strips of chix. or raw shrimp.. in or out of flour tortillas….also good sprinkled on cheese straws/bites

  • Patrick

    Clotilde, I just LOVE your style… That last comment about your new tin already making friends made my day. This is exactly what makes you the one and only, unique, “Clotilde” !

  • Carolyn

    Utz, I believe, has an Old Bay flavored potato chip. And one of my fondest memories of my years in Baltimore is walking around the neighborhood on Sunday with the air smelling like Old Bay

  • Heather

    First off, I just found your site recently, and I love it… my boyfriend recently visited Paris and he brought me lots of lovely things to cook with.
    Having grown up in Virginia, I am very familiar with the greatness that is Old Bay. One of the ways I have used it is on roasted potatoes, also on chickens before roasting. I hope you like it!

  • I did a lot of my growing up in Maryland; my parents still live there. The blue crabs of the Chesapeake Bay are the original vehicle for Old Bay (they’re prominently featured on your can). The summertime tradition of a Maryland crab boil is hard to beat: A mountain of boiled blue crabs smeared with Old Bay sitting on a table wrapped in cheap brown paper. Usually there’s a bucket nearby filled with ice and a dozen bottles of beer (Pilsners go really well with Old Bay-seasoned seafood, in my book). Just have lots of napkins handy.

  • Frank

    A local bar serves what they call “Scooby Snacks”. Thick cut potato wedges fried up then coated with Old Bay and more cayenne pepper. A side of a cucumber/dill yogurt dip is provided to quell the heat. These are a major yum-yum. Thank you, Clotilde, for such a wonderful site.

  • Simple is best. Old Bay is an able substitute for salt, on popcorn and oil and vinegar salad dressing.

    I use it as a quick toast flavor, for english muffins; a quick blast of Pam cooking spray and into the toaster oven for the regular time interval. It goes quite nicley with beans, chili, pasta, or soup.

  • All – Thanks a lot for all the suggestions on how to use Old Bay, and the memories, too. I think he and I are going to have fun together!

  • There is no better spice in my cabinet then the familiar Old Bay. Living only 45 minutes from the Chesapeake it’s a staple in almost all of my seafood recipes. Also tastes excellent on chicken, mixed in hamburgers on the grill and even pork chops!

    And if I may add, I absolutley adore your site! So glad I stumbled upon it.

  • Brian Doyle

    I’m a Virginia Commonwealth University Advertising student. I’m doing a campaign on Old Bay and was wondering if people wouldn’t mind posting why you choose Old Bay and what some of your favorite memories are.

  • wendy

    One of the best barbecue sauces I’ve made is on the back of the large can of old bay. 2 cups of ketchup, 1/4 c brown sugar, 2 or 3 tbsp. old bay. mix well. Let sit to develope flavor about 10 min. Tastes great on chicken,beef and shrimp.

  • Amanda

    I love Old Bay on potato chips. I take a bag of regular chips, pour it into a 2 gallon ziploc, get liberal with the Old Bay Seasoning, and shake away. Love them for a snack, and they’re the first thing my dad grabs when he comes for a visit.

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