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Salmon and avocado are two favorites for many of us, and pair well for Valentine’s Day.

Salmon has that “special meal” feel because a nice fillet makes for a pretty presentation. Not so incidentally, it’s a good source of lean protein and is lauded for its omega-3 fatty acids (make that heart-healthy).

But because salmon is such a popular dinner choice, some of us get into a rut when cooking it.

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to spice it up. It’s as simple as using your favorite chili powder and a few other pantry staples. The salmon in today’s recipe has an ancho chili powder-based spice rub and is topped with a sweet glaze. The sweet and spicy tones provide just the right blend.

When it comes to chili powders, all are not exactly the same. Products simply labeled chili powder may also contain other ingredients including salt, cumin, garlic powder and even oregano.

In today’s recipe, we use ancho chili powder, which is fairly mild and has hints of smokiness. In its fresh form, ancho is called a poblano chile pepper. It’s a deep green color, almost heart-shaped and mild in flavor. Once dried, the pepper takes on a little more heat.

You can use any favorite chili powder in this recipe, but keep in mind that you don’t want to overpower the mild-flavored salmon.

My best advice for salmon? Don’t overcook it. I know, I know. It’s easily done. But you can take a few steps to prevent it from happening.

Brining is a good way to be certain the salmon stays moist during cooking, even if you overcook it by a few minutes.

To brine salmon (even the two pieces in today’s recipe) mix together 6 cups of water with ¼ cup kosher salt and ¼ cup sugar until both dissolve. Place the salmon pieces in a glass baking dish and pour the salt/sugar mixture over, making sure the salmon is submerged in the water. Refrigerate about two hours.

When ready to cook, remove the salmon from the brine and discard the brine. Rinse and pat the salmon dry.

You can brine the salmon as little as one hour and up to three hours. Brine fish any longer than three hours and you run the risk of it becoming mushy.

My preferred method of cooking salmon is to broil it because it is quicker than baking and easier for me to keep an eye on it to judge for doneness.

The last component to this dish that makes it special is the avocado crema, made by mixing avocado with sour cream, a bit of lime juice to help smooth it out and a pinch or two of salt. This creamy mixture also helps to balance this dish because it provides a coolness to the chili spice.