Many food writers say that nachos were a Tex-Mex cuisine creation. Californian's were enjoying nachos long before the Tex Mex craze ever started. Lately, there are many people who swear that nachos were invented in convenience stores. Nachos were created in Mexico long before Cal Mex or Tex Mex cuisine started. Nobody really cares about the origins of nachos, because nachos are party food!
Older recipes for nachos used grated cheddar cheese and not a cheddar cheese sauce. I prefer nachos with grated cheese. Cheese sauce nachos are usually made in high volume snack bars and fast food restaurants. Convenience stores and low quality restaurants use canned processed cheese sauce to make nachos. Processed cheese is not considered to be real cheese and it is not a healthy product. Home made cheese sauce is much better than processed cheese sauce, from a health standpoint.
I really do not like canned processed cheese sauce or processed American cheese. If you read the list of ingredients on a can of processed cheese sauce, then you will understand why! Processed American cheese and processed American cheese sauce are both one molecule away from being a plastic compound. Wild animals will not eat the stuff and that says a lot!
In good restaurants, the corn tortillas are cut and fried shortly before making nachos. Restaurants that fry large batches of tortilla chips, usually run into a problem of stale tasting tortillas. In the home kitchen, a bag of good quality tortilla chips is fine for making nachos. Some tortilla chip brands are better than others.
Native American Hopi Tribe blue corn is a natural corn hybrid with blue colored kernels. Blue corn has a good old fashioned corn flavor that is not sweet. I chose a quality bag of organic crispy blue corn tortilla chips for this recipe.
Canned refried beans are good for making nachos. Again, there is a wide variety of canned refried beans to chose from. Canned refried beans are a real time saving convenience. I have posted a few refried bean recipes in this food site, if you wish to make your own.
Beef taco meat is the most popular meat for nachos. Seafood on nachos is popular in Mexico. I have made blue crab, shrimp and lobster nachos in the past. Anatto flavored fish is traditional in Mexico. Any kind of white fish is good for this recipe. I used tilapia for the nachos in the pictures.
Any kind of tomato salsa is good for nachos too. The salsa should be drained of any excess liquid before being sprinkled on the tortillas. That way, the tortillas will not get soggy from the salsa.
When making nachos, layering the nachos is the best method. A little dab of each of the ingredients should land on each tortilla chip. There should be no bare tortilla chips on a good nacho platter.
Tomato Chipotle Salsa:
For nachos, a basic easy to make salsa is all that is needed.
Place 3/4 cup of diced tomato in a mixing bowl.
Add 1/4 cup of small diced onion.
Add 1/4 cup of small diced green bell pepper.
Add 1 tablespoon of dark chipotle pepper sauce.
Add 1 tablespoon of lime juice.
Add 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar.
Add 1 tablespoon of finely chopped cilantro.
Add sea salt and black pepper.
Mix the ingredients together.
Set the salsa aside.
Home made refried beans are the best, but quality canned refried beans are fine for nachos.
Heat a sauce pot over low heat.
Add about 6 to 8 ounces of refried beans.
Add a splash of water.
Gently heat the refried beans, till they become hot.
The refried beans should not be too thick. The refritos should be thin enough to be poured from a spoon over the tortilla chips. Add water if the refritos are too thick.
Keep the refried beans warm over very low heat.
Cheddar Cheese Nacho Sauce:
Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
Add 1 1/2 ounces of unsalted butter.
Add an equal amount of flour, while whisking, to create a roux.
Cook the roux, while stirring, till it is well combined and it becomes a white color.
Add about 1 1/2 cups of milk, while whisking.
Stir till the sauce heats and starts to thicken.
Reduce the temperature to low heat.
When the bechamel sauce starts to simmer, it should be a very thin cream sauce consistency. Add a splash of milk if the sauce is to thick. Simmer and reduce the sauce gently if it is too thin.
Add sea salt and white pepper.
Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
Add 2 pinches of ground anatto.
Add 1 pinch of garlic powder.
Stir the sauce.
Add 3/4 cup of grated cheddar cheese while stirring with a whisk.
Stir till the cheese melts into the sauce.
Keep the nacho cheese sauce warm over very low heat.
Place 6 to 8 ounces of tilapia filets on a dish.
Season the tilapia with sea salt and black pepper.
Sprinkle 2 pinches of ground ancho chile powder over the fish.
Sprinkle 2 pinches of ground annato over the fish.
Sprinkle 1 pinch of garlic powder over the fish.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil.
Toss the filets in the seasoning, so the fish is evenly coated and it becomes a dark orange color.
Heat a saute pan over medium heat.
Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of blended olive oil.
Place the fish in the pan.
Pan sear the fish on both sides, till it becomes fully cooked.
Set the fish on a dish and keep it warm on a stove top.
Blue Corn Tortilla Fish Nachos:
Cut 2 small green serrano peppers into thin slices and set them aside.
Finely chop 2 tablespoons of cilantro and set it aside.
Drain the excess liquid off of the salsa.
Place a thin layer of blue corn tortilla chips on a large plate. There should be no chips setting on top of each other, but the chips should overlap slightly.
Spoon small dabs of refried beans on each chip.
Sprinkle a little salsa on each chip.
Flake the seared achiote fish into small pieces.
Sprinkle some of the flaked fish on the chips.
Drizzle a thin stream of the cheese sauce over the chips.
Sprinkle a few slices of the sliced serrano pepper over the chips.
Place a slightly smaller layer of tortilla chips over the first layer.
Repeat the assembly steps.
Continue assembling the nachos, till there is 4 to 5 layers. Each layer should be slightly smaller than the first. The nachos should look like a mound with the peak on the center.
Set the plate of nachos on a baking pan.
Place the nachos in a 375º oven for a few minutes to reheat all the ingredients. (About 3 to 4 minutes is enough time. Be careful not to burn the tortilla chips!)
Remove the pan from the oven.
Set the hot nacho plate on a serving platter.
Spoon a little bit more of the cheese sauce over the nachos.
Sprinkle a few more green serrano pepper slices over the nachos.
Sprinkle some chopped cilantro over the nachos.
Fish nachos are a real treat! Nachos are a classic snack food that is meant to be shared and eaten quickly, before they get cold. The robust spicy flavor of the tomato chipotle salsa adds zest to this nacho platter. The Hopi blue corn tortilla chips have a pretty deep purple color. Yum! ... Shawna