Potted Crab and Melba Toast

Crisp golden toast topped with buttery Cromer crab make a tempting starter or party snack from David Massey
By David Massey
Potted Crab and Melba Toast
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Effort: medium


For the potted crab

  • 1 medium shallot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp sherry
  • pinches cayenne pepper
  • pinches ground mace
  • pinches freshly grated nutmeg
  • 150 g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 150 g white crab meat
  • 150 g brown Cromer crab meat
  • 1.5 tsp anchovy essence
  • 1 tsp lemon juice, plus extra if needed
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve

  • 3 slices white bread, for the melba toast
  • 1 tsp crème fraîche
  • 1/4 tsp caviar
  • chervil
  • lemon wedges
  • mustard cress


1. Place the shallots, sherry and spices in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and boil briskly for 2 minutes, until the liquid has cooked down to a dessertspoonful.

2. Stir in the butter and simmer for a further 15 minutes, stirring from time to time. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

3. Pour the spicy butter through a nylon sieve into a bowl. Set the bowl over another bowl filled with ice. Using an electric hand whisk, whisk until the butter becomes thick and creamy.

4. Stir in the crab meat, anchovy essence and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and spoon the mixture into ramekins.

5. Cover the surface with a thin layer of melted butter - this keeps out the air. Cover with food wrap, and chill for 3 hours.

6. For the melba toast, toast the bread under a hot grill. Remove and trim the crusts off. Carefully slice the bread horizontally through the centre to make 2 whole pieces. Toast the other side under the grill. Leave to cool.

7. Remove the potted crab from the fridge about half an hour before serving.

8. To serve, thickly spread the potted crab over the melba toasts. Cover with a spoonful of crème fraiche, and top with caviar. Garnish with chervil, lemon quarters and a heap of mustard cress.

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