Some food writers claim that nachos were a Tex-Mex cuisine creation, but Californian's were actually enjoying nachos long before the Tex Mex craze ever began. In reality, nobody really cares about the origins of nachos, because the only thing that really counts is getting the munch on when nachos are served!
Old traditional nacho recipes called for melted grated cheddar cheese and not a cheddar cheese sauce. I personally 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 exactly a healthy product. Home made cheese sauce is healthier, if cheese sauce style nachos are preferred.
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. Fresh fried tortilla are aromatic and they do make a difference.
In a home kitchen, a bag of good quality tortilla chips is fine for making nachos. Some tortilla chip brands are better than others.
Hopi Blue Maize is a natural corn hybrid. Blue Corn has a good old fashioned corn flavor that is not sweet like commercial GMO corn. I chose a quality bag of USDA Certified Organic Blue Corn Tortilla Chips for today's recipe.
Although GMO labelling is still outlawed by politicians with deep pockets in America, there are ways to get around this problem. When the Non-GMO Project endorsement is seen on a food product package, it means that the farm resource uses no GMO seed, fertilizer or pesticide. Many Organic Blue Corn Tortilla Chip packages do have the Non-GMO Project endorsement.
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 website, if fresh refried beans are preferred.
Beef taco meat is the most popular meat for nachos. Seafood on nachos is popular in Mexico, especially in the Baja region. I have made blue crab, shrimp and lobster nachos in the past. Health conscious people in the southwest actually do prefer nachos made with seafood these days.
Anatto flavored fish is traditional in Mexico. Any kind of white fish is good for this recipe. I used tilapia that was flavored with anatto 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. This way, the tortillas will not become soggy from the salsa juices.
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.
*This entire recipe yield one single portion size nacho platter that can be shared as an appetizer.
Chipotle Tomato 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 for 5 minutes.
Drain the excess liquid off of the salsa shortly before making the nachos.
Home made refried beans are the best, but quality canned refried beans are fine for nachos too.
Heat a sauce pot over low heat.
Add about 1 cup of refried beans.
Add enough water while stirring, so the refried beans are a medium thin consistency that can be dripped in dabs from a spoon.
Gently heat the refried beans, till they become hot.
Keep the refried beans warm over very low heat. Add water if the refritos become too thick.
Cheddar Cheese Nacho Sauce:
This recipe yields about 2 1/4 cups of sauce. Any extra sauce can be used to make other recipes or more nachos!
Step 1: Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
Add 1 1/2 ounces of unsalted butter.
Add an equal amount of flour, while stirring with a whisk, to create a roux.
Cook the roux, while stirring, till it is well combined and it becomes a white color.
Step 2: Add about 2 1/2 cups of milk, while whisking.
Stir till the sauce occasionally as it heats and thicken to a very thin sauce consistency.
Step 3: Reduce the temperature to low heat.
Add sea salt and white pepper.
Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of achiote paste.
Add 1 pinch of garlic powder.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder.
Stir the sauce.
Simmer and reduce the sauce till it becomes a thin cream sauce consistency.
Step 4: Add 1 cup of grated sharp 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.
Stir occasionally. Add milk if the sauce becomes too thick.
Step 1: Place 6 to 8 ounces of tilapia filets in a mixing bowl.
Season the tilapia with sea salt and black pepper.
Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika over the fish.
Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of ground annato over the fish.
Sprinkle 1 pinch of garlic powder over the fish.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of blended olive oil.
Toss the filets with the spices, till the fish is evenly coated and the fish is coated with orange color.
Step 2: Heat a sauté 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.
Step 3: Set the seared fish filets on a pan and keep them warm on a stove top.
Blue Maize Tortilla Fish Nachos:
Step 1: Cut 2 small green serrano peppers into thin slices and set them aside.
Finely chop 2 tablespoons of cilantro and set it aside.
Step 2: Drain the excess liquid off of the reserved salsa.
Step 3: Flake the seared achiote tilapia into small pieces.
Step 4: Place a thin layer of blue maize tortilla chips on a large oven proof serving plate. (There should be no chips setting on top of each other, but the chips should slightly overlap.)
Spoon small dabs of refried beans on each chip.
Sprinkle a little salsa on each chip.
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.
Step 5: Place a slightly smaller layer of blue tortilla chips over the topping on the first ayer.
Repeat the steps for placing the toppings on the tortilla chips.
Step 6: 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 tall mound with the peak on the center.
Step 7: Set the plate of nachos on a baking pan.
Place the nachos in a 325º 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!)
Step 8: Remove the hot nacho plate from the oven.
Set the hot nacho plate on a serving platter underliner.
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! The Hopi Blue Maize Tortilla Chips give this nacho platter an interesting deep purple color.