Whole lobster makes for an amazing meal, but live lobsters can be hard to handle. This clever trick will help you keep from getting pinched. Photo by Louisiana Sea Grant College Program.
As unpleasant as it might sound, cooking a live lobster is actually the safest way to do it. They have harmful bacteria present in their flesh that can rapidly multiply, so working with live ones is the best way to avoid food poisoning. Even so, lobsters aren't too keen on being manhandled. Working with them can be a little unwieldy, and you certainly don't want those claws anywhere near you, so Kenzi Wilbur at Food52 has a tip for getting them to relax:
Flip the lobster gently on its head, tucking its claws gently underneath where its chin would be if it had one. Then tuck down its tail... After ten or so seconds — it will need your help being stabilised in this time — the lobster should calm down significantly, usually enough to headstand on its own.
Wilbur likens it to a lobster doing a child's pose in yoga. The position gives the lobster a bit of a head rush and incapacitates it. Alternatively, if you need more prep time, you can also put the lobster on ice until you're ready to cook.