GIFs by Liz Barclay

You know how to cook a killer steak. You know how to make a mean Old-Fashioned. But do you know how to shuck an oyster?

The raw bar dominates the restaurant world these days, with glistening platters of bivalves being ferried about everywhere you look. Yet few people consider serving raw oysters at home—or, better yet, at a Labor Day cookout—even though shucking an oyster is actually pretty easy, not to mention a lot of fun (and yes, a little dangerous, but that only makes it more fun).

Recently, we found the good folks of Island Creek Oysters running a stand at the Newport Folk Festival, and we couldn’t help but admire the lightening-fast technique of CJ Husk. Turns out the guy is a bit of a legend on the mollusk scene, where he’s often referred to simply as the “oyster dude.” Click through the gallery above for a step-by-step tutorial on how to open a bivalve without hurting yourself (or losing any of the delicious meat).

A few extra tips for those shucking at home:

  • If you don’t have an oyster knife, use a paring knife.
  • Wear protective rubber gloves, or place the oyster in a thick kitchen towel so that if the knife slips, it won’t go into your hand.
  • Shuck over a bowl to avoid spilling brine all over the place
  • Avoiding tipping the shell too much once you get it open—you don’t want to lose the briny juice.
  • Know what to look for when shopping for oysters.