[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

If I learned anything from the movie, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, it's that salmon only thrives in cold waters. That explains why you don't see many traditional Mexican recipes calling for the fish. But I had a hunch that the meaty character of salmon would pair exceptionally well with a tangy and spicy chili-based sauceā€”I just need to find the right one.

While a sauce using fresh chilies would work, I held out for the complex profile only dried red chiles provide. Thing is, most recipes call for soaking dried chilies for over thirty minutes, making it nearly impossible to finish the rest of the cooking process in less than an hour. I needed something faster. Taking a cue from a Rick Bayless's Mexican Everyday, I realized I could also fry the guajillo chiles briefly. The result is an earthy, robust flavor, with just a slight bit of heat. That's cut by some tomatillos, which are blended up with the chiles to make the red sauce.

To round out the meal, I broiled some asparagus. Place the salmon fillets on one side of the sheet pan and the asparagus on the other. Since the flames on my broiler run down the middle, I centered the asparagus side in the middle first, and then finished the salmon off underneath at the end.

This technique resulted in a great crust on the salmon, while leaving it juicy inside. The asparagus came out in that great spot between crisp and tender. The pungent salsa helped tie both parts together.

Thing is, the meaty salmon pairs exceptionally well with chili-based sauces.

About the author: Nick Kindelsperger is the editor of Serious Eats: Chicago. He loves tacos and spicy food. You can follow him as @nickdk on Twitter.

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