There was a decisive winner in last week’s poll and I must admit that it was one dish that I didn’t have an idea for when I put it on the poll. But nachos are something that I can usually wing so I wasn’t too worried about it. After some thinking I came up with a bit of a twist on a very popular dish these days: fish tacos.
I figured why not make some really crunchy, freshly fried chips, and top them with slivers of flaky fish and a good pineapple salsa. Honestly, these fish nachos were darn good.
If you’ve read Macheesmo for awhile you’ll probably know that I’m not very specific when it comes to a lot of things. I substitute ingredients pretty frequently and sometimes try interesting techniques that may not always be tried and true. But if there is one thing I don’t mess with, it is nachos. I’ve made the near perfect nachos already on Macheesmo and, in fact, the only reason I named them near perfect is so I would have an excuse to make other nachos.
Yield: Serves 2-6.
12 corn small corn tortillas cut into 6. 72 chips if you aren't math inclined.
Vegetable oil for cooking the chips
2/3 pound cod or other white fish
2 Tablespoons greek yogurt or sour cream
1/2 pineapple, diced. Probably about 2-3 cups
1 red pepper, diced
1 lime, juice only
1/4 Cup orange juice
Kosher salt for basically every part of this
Cayenne pepper (optional)
Candy/Deep Fry Thermometer
1) Cut corn tortillas into sixths.
2) In a cast iron skillet or some other sturdy pan, heat some canola, vegetable, or peanut oil to about 350 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, toss in a bit of tortilla every minute or two. It should start bubbling right away and float to the top.
3) Toss in 12 tortilla chips at a time. Cook for 4 minutes to cook, flipping halfway through.
4) Let them drain on a paper towel and toss them with some Kosher salt.
5) Toss cod in a nonstick pan with a Tablespoon of oil. Sprinkle with a bit of salt (and maybe some lime juice) and let it cook on medium-high heat for about 3 minutes per side. Then pull it off and let it cool. It should easily flake apart.
6) Mix avacado with a bit of yogurt or sour cream and a pinch of salt.
7) Grate the cheddar cheese.
8) Chop up salsa ingredients and add orange juice and lime with a good pinch of salt.
9) Top each chip individually and add a pinch of salt and tiny pinch of cayenne to each nacho.
10) Bake at 350 for only about 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and everything is hot.
11) Pile them on a plate and serve them with the salsa!
Making the chips
In my opinion the one thing that really sets a decent plate of nachos apart from an amazing plate of nachos is the chips. I’ve just never found a store bought chip that has the strength and thickness that I need to pile high with toppings. Which means that whenever possible, I make my own for nachos.
Buy normal corn tortillas and cut them into sixths. In a cast iron skillet or some other sturdy pan, heat some canola, vegetable, or peanut oil to about 325 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, toss in a bit of tortilla every minute or two. It should start bubbling right away and float to the top.
Toss in 12 tortillas at a time. You don’t want to crowd them. I timed mine and they took almost exactly 4 minutes to cook. I flipped them over half way through. You’ll know when they are done because they won’t be bubbling anymore. That means all the moisture is out of the chips which will leave you with a perfectly crisp chip.
Let them drain on a paper towel and toss them with some Kosher salt.
Cooking the fish
I used a nice piece of cod for these nachos and all I did was toss it in a nonstick pan with a Tablespoon of oil. Sprinkle with a bit of salt (and maybe some lime juice) and let it cook on medium-high heat for about 3 minutes per side. Then pull it off and let it cool. It should easily flake apart.
For you fish taco fans, I considered breading and frying this like some fish taco recipes, but just decided against it since I was going to break it up into pieces.
I mixed up a quick batch of my new favorite quick guacamole which is just avocado, a bit of yogurt or sour cream, and a pinch of salt.
I used two types of cheese for these guys. Cotija cheese which doesn’t really melt and is kind of salty but light. Similar to feta but a bit more mild. I also threw in some grated cheddar for meltiness. And yes, I know this violates the no seafood with cheese rule, but whatever.
One thing I messed up on with this salsa is that I didn’t quite take my time chopping the pineapple. The pieces were a bit too big compared to the peppers and jalepenos. Basically though, just chop up everything and add your orange juice and lime with a good pinch of salt.
You can easily make this and the chips a day or two in advance.
Ok. So here is where the obsessive part kicks in for me. One thing I hate is to have a plate of nachos where half the chips have toppings and half the chips have nothing. Some are really crisp and some are soggy. I like every chip to be crispy and topped! Is that too much to ask?
So I top all of them individually. I’m telling you. Once you take the time (like 5 minutes) to make nachos like this, you’ll never go back to the pile method again.
You can a bit less careful with the cheese. Just make sure each chip has a bit of both kinds. Some people may think this is crazy to top each chip individually, but really you are only talking about a few dozen chips. It doesn’t take as long as you might thing.
Bake these guys at 350 for only about 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and everything is hot.
Then you can pile them on a plate and serve them with the salsa!
I thought these were really good. The fish was nice and light and the salsa was tasty. Overall though, I found them to be a bit lacking on take one. Luckily I had enough to make these two days in a row! This is what I did differently to make the nachos better on take two.
1) I sprinkled the nachos with a bit more salt before baking them. I think they were lacking a bit the first time around. A pinch of extra salt made a huge difference.
2) I also very lightly sprinkled the nachos with cayenne. Take one for me wasn’t spicy enough so I spiced them up a bit. Also an improvement.
3) As I said, if I was making the salsa again, I would make sure to chop the pineapple a bit smaller.
So there you go! A very solid nacho dish that is light, a bit fruity, but still has some spice.
But seriously. Make the chips. Top them individually. Life changing.