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Spicy potted crab

Spicy potted crab

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  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Total time
    • Takes 1 hour 10 mins-1 hour 25 mins, plus chilling
  • Easy
  • Serves 20

An ideal elegant starter for a wedding

low insalt0g


  • x pkts unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp hot chilli powder (or use ¼-½ tsp pure chilli powder - cayenne)
  • 950g fresh (well picked over) or frozen (thawed) white crabmeat
  • 6 tbsp finely chopped fresh chive
  • 6 tbsp finely chopped flatleaf parsley
  • juice of 2 lemons and zest of one good pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 white medium sliced loaf of bread
  • 2 lemons for garnish, cut into 20 wedges


  • STEP 1

    The day before: Heat the butter in a pan until melted. Turn up the heat a little to separate most of the milk solids (the creamy white looking part) to start clarifying, but be careful it doesn’t burn. It is clarified when there are a few nutty brown “bits” at the bottom and the remaining liquid is a clear golden colour. Cool slightly and carefully pour into a jug, leaving the nutty “bits” behind.

  • STEP 2

    Pour the clear butter back into a clean pan and tip in the chilli powder. Heat very gently for 1-2 minutes. (The butter will cloud up again.)

  • STEP 3

    Put the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and season. Carefully fold together with a spatula, trying not to break up the plump flesh. Taste and adjust seasoning.

  • STEP 4

    Loosely spoon the mixture into 20 100ml ramekins or into one larger shallow serving dish. Ensure you leave a nice level top. Now pour over the chilli clarified butter to give a thin covering. Stir the butter to distribute the spice each time before you pour. If the butter cools too much, microwave it for 30 seconds. Cover the ramekins and put in the fridge for 2 hours, or overnight, until the butter is set.

  • STEP 5

    Make the melba toast: lightly toast the bread. Cut off the crusts, then slice the bread through the centre so you have ultra thin slices. Put the toast, cut-side up, under a medium to hot grill to toast until the edges curl. Be careful as it burns easily. Cool, and store in sealed plastic bags.

  • STEP 6

    On the day- one hour ahead: Remove the potted crab from the fridge an hour before serving, but keep in a cool place. You want the mixture to be soft enough so that all the delicious buttery flavours blend into the toast. Put each ramekin or a spoonful of spicy crab on to a serving plate with a lemon wedge.

  • STEP 7

    Crisp the melba toast, if necessary, in the oven for 5 minutes. Place a couple of slices on each plate and serve.


You can buy good quality frozen crab - we liked Gourmet snow crab meat in 100g packs from Waitrose. Alternatively use 8 x 170g cans crabmeat (John West is good).

Goes well with

Recipe from Good Food magazine, July 2002

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