Growing up in Maryland for most of my life Ive been eating and cooking Old bay steamed Shrimp since I was a kid. If you are a seafood Lover this needs to be the recipe you make for your next gathering. Spicy tender juicy shrimp braised in beer with the quintessential Maryland spice blend OLD BAY!!!Jump to Recipe Print Recipe
Why Make This Recipe?
I Love Shrimp in all forms but at the end of the day Steamed old bay shrimp is the best way to appreciate the flavor of the actual shrimp. I have served this exact recipe at many restaurants where I was the Executive chef for years and its always been a customer favorite!!
Ingredient List For Old Bay Steamed Shrimp
Shrimp: You’ll need to use a large shrimp something in the 21/25 per pound or larger range
Old Bay: Old bay is a seafood seasoning created in Maryland that I loaded with spice and salt goodness used on seafood corn and anything marylanders can shake it on.
Beer: Steaming the shrimp in the beer drive the shrimp more flavor and goes great with all the other ingredients. You can use any beer you like but bring extra for drinking.
Butter: Butter adds a richness to the beer broth and is always a great addition when cooking seafood.
Lemon: this helps to balance out the spice from the old bay and gives the shrimp a subtle acidity.
Lemon Pepper: Just to give the recipe that extra lemon kick as well as a little extra spice from the black pepper.
Onions: This is a love/hate ingredient when it comes to old bay steamed shrimp. If you love onions its a great addition and if you don’t just skip them.
Tabasco Sauce: I want to be sweating a bit when I’m eating old bay shrimp and tabasco gives you just the right amount of heat.
Pickle Juice: This gives the dish a tanginess that I really enjoy. If you don’t have any pickle juice a shot of white vinegar works just fine.
What Type of Shrimp are the Best??
There are two main factors I think about when I chose my shrimp, the size and the location of the shrimp.
When it comes to the size I don’t want to choose a Shimp too small because they are easy to overcook.
What Size Shrimp are Best for Old Bay Shrimp?
21/25 count shrimp are the smallest size I use for steamed shrimp. Smaller shrimp are best for quick sautéed recipes and shrimp or shrimp salad.
16/20 or U-15 are a little larger and my personal favorite because they are meaty, tender and impressive on the plate.
The count size of shrimp refers to the amount of shrimp in a pound. For example, 21/25 ct. will contain between 21 and 25 shrimp per pound. When you see terms like large, jumbo and medium it can be very deceiving because there is no regulation of those size terms. Always try to buy shrimp based on a count so you know what you’re getting.
Wild Caught vs Farm Raised
The second factor is where the shrimp come from. Personally wild caught gulf shrimp are as good as money can buy.
Texas brown shrimp are my personal favorite when available. Farm raised shrimp are fine but I try to buy domestic because I trust the regulations more.
Buying shrimp from Thailand and South America is a little more risky in my opinion so I avoid it whenever possible.
Personally I’m not a fan of red shrimp like rock shrimp or Argentinian varieties. The flavor just doesn’t appeal to me but if you enjoy them then go for it.
Things to look for when buying Shrimp.
Unless you’re within 50 miles of an ocean or large body of water chances are the shrimp you’re buying are previously frozen.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I would much rather buy shrimp that were harvested and frozen immediately than fresh shrimp that have been sitting in a seafood case rotting for 3-4 days.
When you see shrimp in a seafood case it was most likely thawed out within 12-24 hours. The shrimp should smell like the ocean and not have any scent of ammonia or overly fishy scent.
The shrimp should be displayed and packed with ice and not sitting in a pool of water. Look for any discoloration or off colors.
The shrimp shells should be moist but not slimy, avoid shrimp that have dried out shells as well because that’s a sign they have not been properly stored.
Where to Buy the Best Shrimp
The other biggest factor when buying shrimp is the seller. If you’re buying shrimp from a reputable seafood market or a large chain grocery store then I feel pretty good that you will find quality shrimp.
On the hand if you see a guy or gal on the side of the road with a cardboard sign that says “fresh seafood here” then it’s up to you to make the decision.
Now I have bought roadside seafood and had some fantastic results. However, I also know what to look for and what questions to ask.
If you’re not comfortable purchasing from a roadside stand then stick to fresh markets and grocery stores.
Should You Devein Shrimp
The dark colored “vein” running along the top of the shrimp isn’t a vein but rather the digestive tract of the shrimp.
It really comes down to personal preference whether you devein shrimp. It is not harmful to eat and in many cultures shrimp are not deveined at all.
If you want to devein the shrimp after they are steamed you can just peel back the digestive tract which will turn a bright orange color.
How to Cook Old Bay Steamed Shrimp
This dish comes together quickly so have all your ingredients prepared and ready. This isn’t the type of recipe where you set a timer and walk away.
Step 1: Prep Ingredients: Slice the onions, prepare the cocktail sauce and have your serving dish ready. That’s also part of the reason I love this recipe.
Step 2: Steam The Shrimp Place the Shrimp, Onions, Seasonings and Liquid In a large pot and turn the heat up to medium high. It should take about 7-10 minutes to reach a boil. Stir every few minutes so the shrimp cook evenly.
Step 3: Remove the Shrimp As soon as the liquid reaches a boil the shrimp should be fully cooked. turn of the heat and let the shrimp sit in the liquid for about 30 seconds then remove the shrimp draining off as much of the liquid as possible.
Step 4: Season and Serve Toss the cooked shrimp in a large bowl with old bay, hot sauce, butter and onions then serve with cocktail sauce and lemon slices.
More Seafood Recipes
- New Orleans Style Barbecue Shrimp
- Bang Bang Shrimp Dip
- Steamed Shrimp on the Grill
- Chesapeake Crab Butter Sauce
- Cedar Plank Smoked Crab Cakes
Old Bay Steamed Shrimp
- 1 large pot
- 1 Pair of Tongs
- In a wide pan pour in Beer, water and pickle juice, toss shrimp with half the old bay then add to the pan along with sliced onion. Finally squeeze the juice of one lemon before adding to the pan with a lid.
- Turn the heat to Medium and bring to a boil (7-10 minutes) once the pan has reached a boil remove the lid and stir for about 1-2 minutes until shrimp are fully cooked.
- Immediately remove the shrimp and onions from the pan and place in a bowl with butter, tabasco and remaining old bay and lemon pepper. Serve along side cocktail sauce and lemon wedges.
Sriracha Cocktail Sauce
- Whisk together all ingredients and store in the Fridge for up to 2 months