This is brilliant as a first course for a summer meal for six people, but two or three could easily polish off the whole lot for lunch. Either way serve it with toasted Irish soda bread, melba toasts, lemon wedges and mustard and cress.
Start by placing the shallots, sherry and spices in a saucepan, bring to a simmer then boil briskly until the liquid has reduced to a dessertspoon—(it should only take about 2 minutes).
Next, stir in the butter; when melted, turn the heat down and simmer gently for 15 minutes, stirring from time to time. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Using a nylon sieve over a bowl, pour through the cooled spicy butter. Set the bowl over another bowl filled with ice and, using an electric hand whisk, whisk until the butter becomes thick and creamy, but not hard.
Now mix in the crab meat, anchovy essence, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Spoon this crabby mixture into ramekins, cover the surface with melted butter to seal off the air. Cover with clingfilm, and chill for 3 hours.
Remove the potted crab from the fridge about half an hour before serving. To serve, thickly spread the potted crab over the melba toasts. Place a quenelle of crème fraiche on top and a small amount of caviar on top of that. Garnish with chervil, lemon quarters and a flourish of mustard and cress sprouts.
For the Melba toast
Toast the bread under the grill. Remove from grill and trim the crusts off. Carefully slice the bread in half to create 2 whole pieces. Now toast the other sides under the grill. Allow to cool and set aside.