Combine the shallot with a large pinch of salt. It's best to mix with your hands and to rub the salt into the shallots. Let sit while you cook the asparagus.
Heat a large heavy saute pan over medium high heat. Add the oil and then asparagus spears, season with salt, and saute. They will brighten in color. Saute until just cooked through, but still crisp-tender at the center, 3 to 5 minutes.
Arrange the asparagus on a platter. Squeeze any excess juices from the shallots. Mix together the shallot and crushed chile and strew across the asparagus. Sprinkle with Maldon or another flaky sea salt, and serve with the lemon wedges for squeezing on the asparagus at the table.
Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.