There are few flavors that deliver the essence of summer better than Old Bay Seasoning. Even the name conjures up visions of gingham, picnic tables, and sunburns. The seasoning was invented back in 1939 by German immigrant Gustav Brunn who came to Baltimore, Maryland, to escape World War II. What was originally created to complement crab and shrimp now finds its way into many more dishes (hello, Old Bay Bloody Mary). We asked chefs around America to tell us some of their favorite ways to use the beloved Maryland seasoning for their summertime cooking.
Old Bay Potato Salad
Easy never tasted so awesome.
Orion Russell, executive chef of Greenpoint Fish & Lobster in New York, finds Old Bay to be a perfect beer complement. “People often rim their beers with it. I myself have enjoyed many a Natty Boh [National Bohemian Beer] with a rim of Old Bay,” Russell says. Keep your summer cooking easy and transform a cookout classic with your Bay shaker. Russell recently served a crispy fish with a side of Old Bay potato salad. “I highly recommend it for your next summer event or barbecue, he says. “And honestly, I made it just like regular potato salad, but with Old Bay added.” Serve your fish and potato salad with a cold natural white wine, or a Natty Boh.
Read more: 27 Ways to Use Old Bay Seasoning
Old Bay Oil Chicken
Old Bay is a familiar ingredient for Atlas Restaurant Group’s corporate chef Aaron Taylor. That doesn’t mean that Taylor uses the seasoning in familiar ways. “Old Bay works great in the summer because it is so versatile,” Taylor says. “I like to mix it with butter use the combination to season grilled vegetables like corn or potatoes.” Taylor’s a fan of Old Bay’s balance of spices, herbs, and celery, and turns the spice into an oil. “[It] adds a great punch to any dish, especially a chicken or shellfish dish,” Taylor says. Pair your Old Bay oil chicken with an IPA or summer ale to complete the meal.
Get the recipe: Parker House Rolls Topped with Cheddar and Old Bay
Grilled Mushrooms and Endives With Old Bay
Old Bay helps stoke your appetite on a hot summer’s day. “Its flavor profile has that kick and bit of spice that makes you want to keep eating, especially in the summer months when it’s hotter outside,” says chef Josiah Citrin of Charcoal, Melisse, and Openaire, who just released a cookbook last month called Charcoal: New Ways to Cook With Fire. In the spirit of summer, fire up the grill and grab some vegetables. “I like preparing a side dish of mushrooms and endives grilling them over a live fire on the beach,” Citrin says. “Old Bay kind of gives it an East Coast flavoring to this hearty side dish.”
Get the recipe: Old Bay Shrimp Salad
Old Bay Doughnut Bun
Doughnuts aren’t always sweet at Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken. Sometimes, Old Bay and fried chicken gets involved. “I actually like to use it in a coating for fried chicken our an Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken Old Bay Doughnut Bun for one of our sandwiches,” says chef Chris Kujala. “Old Bay has a unique flavor that goes well with just about anything. Not too overpowering with just the right amount of heat (not too spicy), so it makes it appealing to bring out the flavors of meat, fish or poultry.” Kujala recommends cracking open a wine cooler or wheat beer (plus a slice of lemon or lime) to go with the sando.
Old Bay Edamame
Old Bay is a snack star at Fish Hawk Oyster Bar at the Tides Inn in Irvington, Virginia. “Currently, we use it to season our French fries as well as edamame,” says general manager Stuart Barwise. “We love utilizing Old Bay in hollandaise and aioli, which adds flavor to a fried soft shell crab plate without overpowering the crab itself.” The Tides Inn culinary team finds Old Bay’s celery salt to bring a cleaner and brighter flavor to a spice mix than a normal pepper mix.
Old Bay White Beans With Wood-Fired Octopus
In Louisville, Kentucky, 8UP chef Henry Wesley is a huge Old Bay fan, particularly in the summer. “I’m from Washington D.C., and grew up in Maryland, where you can find the seasoning on nearly everything,” he says. “It’s a great seasoning for the summer because of the heat and the salinity.” As a kid, Wesley would head down to the boardwalk and get lemonade and Old Bay French fries. “The juxtaposition of flavor between the two creates a symphony of flavor the notes of which still bring a smile to my face today,” he says. “Citrus, sweet mixing with the spice and salt of the fries with Old Bay is a summertime favorite.” Today, Wesley is a fan of Old Bay in his restaurant’s crab cakes, as well as in the white beans that go with his Gochujang-honey-glazed octopus. It also finds its way in his pork rinds, salmon, steaks, and popcorn.
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