Last summer, Matt and I spent a few days in Long Beach, California, and being the beer nerds that we are, we turned the experience into a beercation, which basically means we try to visit as many breweries and local beer bars as possible. Ballast Point Brewing sat on top of our Long Beach list and for good reason. The beer was delicious with lots of sour ale and IPA options, and the view was stunning. But you know what else stole my heart? Ballast Point's ahi nachos. Oh, the nachos.
Matt and I recently reminisced about this trip, which brought the ahi nachos back to my brain: light, airy fried wonton chips; marinaded ahi; a creamy, subtly spicy wasabi sauce. Sigh. I missed it. And that's when it hit me. Why not make my own spin on these ahi nachos? Plan initiated.
As a side note, if you ever find yourself in Long Beach, I highly recommend you visit Ballast Point. The brewery is right on the water with a huge outdoor patio and rooftop bar. If sour ales and IPAs aren't your favorite, I'm a huge fan of Ballast Point's Victory at Sea, a vanilla imperial porter. Try to get there early if you can. We arrived around 6:30 or 7 p.m., and it was packed. You don't want to miss the chance to grab a patio seat.
While Ballast Point's nachos were delicious, they didn't have any cheese, and after cruising the internet, I noticed that's common among ahi nacho recipes. For my version, I decided to change that. After all, this blog is named after my love of cheese. What kind of cheese lover would I be if I didn't add cheese to these ahi nachos? Not a very good one.
Of course, ahi is so delicious that the flavor of the cheese shouldn't overwhelm the fish but complement it instead. With that in mind, mozzarella is the perfect choice. Mozzarella is mild enough to not take over the ahi but also has a nice tangy, acidic kick that's always great with seafood. Plus, mozzarella melts to the perfect texture.
Now let's chat recipe steps. Not any chip will do with these nachos. Wonton chips are a must with these ahi nachos, so we start by frying small wonton wrappers cut in half. Although this step takes some time, I promise it's worth the effort, and the rest of the process goes quickly. In fact, once you fry these perfectly crisp chips, I challenge you not to eat them in an entire sitting before you make your nachos. Trust me. You'll need to find some restraint.
After frying the wonton chips, marinate the ahi in soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce and lime juice. I especially like the garlic-chili sauce from Huey Fong. You don't need to marinate the ahi long. That said, you're welcome to marinate the ahi ahead of time if that works best for you, but keep in mind that the citrus will cook the ahi over time. Marinating raw seafood in citrus is actually what makes ceviche, so it's the same concept. The more you know.
As the ahi marinates, heat the oven to 400 degrees, chop some avocado and red onion, grate fresh ginger, mix together a little wasabi and Mexican crema, toast a spoonful of sesame seeds and shred the mozzarella. Spread half of the wonton chips in a baking dish or cast iron skillet, layer with half of the cheese and repeat.
If you have a sheet pan that's large enough to spread the chips in a single layer, you can skip the layering. However, if you use a cast iron skillet or smaller baking dish, layering is a must. Nothing makes me sadder than digging into a mountain of nachos only to discover most of the plate is filled with sad, dry chips underneath that top layer. As good as these wonton chips are, let's not be stingy with our cheese.
Now that your wonton chips are loaded with cheesy goodness, pop them into the oven until the cheese melts. Sprinkle the remaining ingredients on top and you're ready to dig in.
Allow me to stick with the Ballast Point theme here and recommend Grapefruit Sculpin IPA with these ahi nachos. The citrusy hops and added grapefruit are a natural match for the ahi and help bring out the flavor among the other toppings. At the same time, Sculpin’s hop-forward profile elevates the spice from the garlic chili sauce and wasabi.
But if wine is on the mind, pair these ahi nachos with a sparkling rosé. With the fried chips, ahi, cheese and avocado, fat is aplenty in this dish, and the bubbles will cut through those layers to give your palate a refresher.
Not only do I hope you try these ahi nachos but I also hope you have a chance to visit Ballast Point's Long Beach location at some point. I was so impressed by the Long Beach brewery that I definitely plan to hit all the locations. Big life goals right there. Please leave a comment to let me know your recipe thoughts and don't forget to sign up for my newsletter.
Looking for More Seafood Recipes?
- Maine-style lobster rolls
- Salmon-avocado burgers with lime-sriracha aioli
- Tex-Mex avocado pasta with chili-tequila roasted shrimp and cojita
- Connecticut-style lobster BLT
Marinated ahi sits on top of freshly fried wonton chips with melted mozzarella, wasabi creama, avocado, red onion, ginger, cilantro and jalapeno slices.
For Wonton Chips
Peanut oil for frying
15 small wonton wrappers, cut diagonally in halves
For Marinated Ahi
½ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons chili-garlic sauce
½ lime, juiced
12 ounces ahi, cubed
For Wasabi Crema
¼ cup Mexican-style crema
1-2 teaspoons wasabi paste
Dash of salt
For Additional Nacho Toppings
2 cups mozzarella, shredded
1 avocado, cubed
1 jalapeno, sliced
½ lime, juiced
⅓ cup red onion, chopped
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
- In a large sauce pan or Dutch oven, pour enough oil to come up 2 inches. Heat the oil to 350 degrees. Drop in a few wontons at a time and fry for about 40 seconds. Using tongs, flip the wontons and heat until the wonton chip is golden brown, about another 30 or 40 seconds. Remove the fried wontons to a paper towel-lined plate and repeat until you fry all the wontons.
- Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, stir together the soy sauce, chili garlic sauce and lime juice. Add the ahi and stir to coat. Place in the refrigerator. Prep the cheese, avocado, red onion and fresh ginger.
- Mix together the Mexican-style crema, wasabi paste and salt. Start with one teaspoon of wasabi paste and taste. If you want a stronger wasabi flavor, add another teaspoon.
- On a baking sheet or cast iron skillet, lay down half of the wonton chips and top with half of the cheese. Repeat with the remaining chips and cheese. If you have a sheet pan large enough to hold all the chips in one layer, you can use that instead. Bake until the cheese fully melts, about eight to 10 minutes.
- While the nachos bake, toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat for about three to five minutes.
- Once the cheese melts, remove from oven and sprinkle the ahi, wasabi crema, avocado, jalapeno, lime juice, red onion, cilantro, fresh ginger and sesame seeds all over the nachos and serve immediately. Enjoy!
Most grocery stores sell Mexican-style crema. I generally find it near the refrigerated tortillas. If you don't have crema, you can make your own by mixing together two tablespoons of sour cream with two tablespoons of heavy cream.
- Category: Appetizers
Keywords: nachos, ahi, ahi nachos