My happy place is anywhere within 10 miles of a Cafe Rio.
Heck! I’d even take 50 miles! Or even “same state” status. (If you haven’t eaten there before, it’s a Tex-Mex restaurant that lands somewhere between stretchy yoga pants-awesome and new hair cut/color-awesome. YEAH. It’s that good.)
So, this magical wish-granting place has my favorite dressing and I could pour it on a box of nuts and bolts and dig in with a smile. It’s creamy and herby with a hit of heat and a tart limey zip.
I stole their dressing – well, I stole the flavors of their dressing – to make this fantastic summery salad. Paired with grilled salmon that’s rubbed with a smoky ancho chile/smoked paprika combo, it is a union made in a unicorn paradise.
I’m not even exaggerating.
The creamy, cool cilantro ranch balances the smoky heat on the salmon and dances a perfect cha cha in your mouth.
My favorite way to cook salmon is on a hot grill. (You could certainly use a grill pan instead.) Cook it on High and cook it quickly. Only about 3 minutes per side for these little fillets makes the perfect flaky texture that’s still moist and a perfect medium/medium rare in the middle.
You can tell that salmon is overcooked when you see the albumin – or the coagulated protein/”white stuff” inside the salmon – start to seep out. When you see that, pull that baby off the grill as quickly as you can.
Ideally you want to cook it ’til just before that happens (or if you like your salmon rare, you can go even less). Hence why the high and fast grilling is so perfect. You get a lovely sear on the outside and cook it just right and then you’re done.
It’s a flaky, creamy, smoky-spicy combo that puts all other salads to shame.