A riff on an earlier recipe of mine, "Date-Night Lemony Scallop Fettuccine," and the first meal cooked in my new kitchen! This variation was inspired by some beautiful farmers market asparagus in addition to the melt-in-your mouth prosciutto I had on hand. You can crisp the prosciutto for textural purposes if you want, but this stuff was so delicate and luxurious that I decided to leave it as is. —Chris Hagan
unsalted butter, divided, plus a little olive oil
green onions, sliced thinly on the bias
finely chopped Italian parsley, plus extra for garnish
crumbled toasted nori
zest of 1 lemon
roasted red pepper strips, thinly sliced in 2-inch lengths
bunch thin asparagus
driest possible sea scallops, cut into chunks
flour for dusting
clam juice or fish stock
lemon juice to taste (start with 1/2 a lemon and adjust from there)
fettuccine (fresh if possible)
prosciutto, preferably San Daniele, sliced paper-thin so that it is almost translucent
Fill a large (13") skillet with just enough water to cook the pasta. Season with salt, cover and set to boil. (This will produce extra-starchy pasta water for finishing the dish. Using a wide, shallow dish with more surface area also allows the water to come to a boil more quickly.)
Set another skillet over medium heat and film it with olive oil. Melt 2 tbsp butter in the oil. Saute green onions, parsley, nori, lemon zest, Aleppo pepper, and roasted red pepper strips together until fragrant, a minute or two. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and peel any overly-thick stems. Cut into 1 1/2-2-inch lengths, and add to the pan along with the aromatics. Lightly coat scallops in flour, then add to the pan as well. Toss and saute another minute or so.
Add brandy to the pan and flame. (Or don't, and just let the alcohol cook off by itself. But flaming is more fun.) When the flames die out, add clam juice and cream and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, cook the pasta. If using fresh, it should only take a couple minutes and you can leave the scallops to simmer. If using dried, cover the scallops and remove from heat while the pasta cooks.
When pasta is just al dente, use tongs or a spider to transfer to the pan with the scallops, add another tbsp or two of butter and a ladleful of pasta water, and toss until butter melts. Add lemon juice and toss again. Tear the prosciutto into smaller pieces and scatter over the pasta. Garnish with extra parsley and serve.