It arrived on Christmas eve in a tightly sealed styrofoam box.
My scissors sliced through the billowing plastic and industrial strength tape surrounding the container.
I tentatively lifted the lid – but only a little – and promptly dropped it back down again. I had seen nothing.
I called my mum over to help.
We both glimpsed cautiously into the box when suddenly, she let out a small yelp of surprise.
I had received a text message, which caused a loud, sudden buzz to reverberate across the counter top. We both giggled ferociously.
Our laughter gave us the courage to throw the lid off, pull back the sheet filled with melted ice and uncover the greatly anticipated star of our Christmas – Christmas lunch, that is: a brilliantly orange and very much cooked crayfish.
I can’t explain the irrational fear I felt when first attempting to open the box and it doesn’t make sense to me why I chicken out at handling a once-living creature that still looks like an animal (spit roasts are a prime case in point). Whatever the reason, I couldn’t bring myself to drive a knife through the crayfish’s head to split it open so I asked Andrew to do it for me.
Being the endearing soul he is, he promptly named our little buddy “Pinchy”, before cracking open its head.
“I shall name him Pinchy and he shall be mine and he shall be my Pinchy.”
Photo: Tao Lin
Once he cracked open the crayfish, Andrew removed the mustard-coloured liver and some other soft gooey stuff before I brushed over the flesh with a mix of melted butter, a chopped red chilli, crushed garlic and grated zest of a lime (recipe by Nadia Lim). It then went onto a heated pan to grill, flesh-side down, for a couple of minutes before serving.
It was a surprise for my dad, who loves shellfish, and part of my Christmas gift to him. It was a nice feeling seeing his joy from something that is so basic and his enthusiasm in encouraging us all to enjoy the dish with him.
I hope everyone’s had such warm moments this festive season and a fabulously happy holiday!
Photo: Tao Lin