Old Bay is a spice mix produced by the US-based company McCormick & Company. It is a staple seasoning used in the state of Maryland and it has been around for almost 80 years. Every household will have at least one bottle of Old Bay in their kitchens.
Pronounced “Ol’ Bay”, the spice mix contains ingredients like salt, black pepper, celery, paprika and crushed red pepper flakes. Mustard, nutmeg, bay leaves, mace and cardamom are added in regional variations, but they aren’t in the classic McCormick creation. The popularity of this spicy seasoning has reached all across the Mid-Atlantic, to the New England and Southern States. Today, Old Bay is to the mid-and-south USA, what jerk powder is to Jamaica and garam masala is to India.
Traditionally, the Old Bay seasoning was used as a spice rub when cooking sea food. But today, its use has become quite extensive for all types of meat and vegetable-based dishes. The seasoning best goes with clam chowder, crab cakes, sea food gravy and oyster stew. It can also be used to season French fries, salads, boiled vegetables, dips & salsa, eggs and fried foods.
Old Bay is an excellent alternative to Cajun seasoning and Creole seasoning, given its inherent spiciness.