What is shito?
Shito is a very hot sauce that is popular in Ghana.
It consists of kpakpo green shito peppers, and it is often used as an accompaniment to fish dishes or kenkey. It is also eaten with steamed white rice, fried plantains, green vegetables, eba and waakye (a dish made from rice and beans).
Shito is particularly popular and consumed in Ghana. Its dark red color is very appetizing and presage deliciously spicy flavors. Young Ghanaians often eat the spicy condiment instead of ketchup.
The Ghanaian thick sauce can also be eaten simply with bread or spring rolls. Shito is also very popular among students in the country because it can often be bought premade, is cheap and allows you to eat quickly and easily at school. In supermarkets, there are versions that are more or less spicy.
Shito means “spicy” in Ga, one of the languages of Ghana spoken in the region of Accra, the capital of the country. In the rest of Ghana, black pepper is called shito or shitor din.
The shito recipe can also be used to marinate meats or fish, can be used as a vinaigrette, spread, topping for barbecue dishes or dip for French fries. It is not uncommon to find it on a cheese board instead of the usual chutneys.
In Chinese restaurants in Ghana, shito replaces the usual Chinese hot sauces and is eaten with fried rice or steamed rice.
It is also used in fish and seafood soups as well as in rice dishes as a natural flavor enhancer.
How to make shito
The preparation of the shito begins with the frying of red onions in oil, the sweet taste of this variety of onions goes particularly well with chili peppers. Garlic, ground green chili peppers, grated fresh ginger, thyme and diced kpakpo shito peppers are then added.
Everything must fry a few minutes before being moistened with tomato purée. Chicken broth is then added until the preparation becomes a fairly dense paste. Dried shrimps and smoked fish powder are also added. You shall continue the cooking for forty minutes, stirring continuously to prevent the preparation from sticking to the bottom of the pan, in which case it may become very bitter.
When the sauce turns a shade of a very dark brown almost black and the oil rises to the surface, shito is ready. It can then be kept refrigerated for one month in sterilized glass jars.
What is the origin of shito?
The use of smoking fish in West Africa is a secular tradition. It is considered that smoked fish is good for the table of Gods. It is often found on the altars of religious ceremonies. Peppers from South America have quickly become acclimatized in West Africa and have been consumed since their introduction by European settlers who traveled between Africa and the New World.
There are different versions of shito in Ghana. Some versions are more or less dark, more or less red, may contain other varieties of seafood but all are inspired by the Ga tribe who is undeniably at the origin.
What are thee other versions of shito?
Shito can also be prepared with fresh bell peppers instead of chili peppers. They are crushed with onions and tomatoes in an asanka, a local terracotta bowl. This preparation, which is much more red, then takes the name of shitor tsulu. If it is prepared with green bell peppers, it will however be called kpakpo shito. These versions of shito are eaten with banku, akple, gari, kenkey or rice.
It looks like sambal belacha, a Malaysian condiment, where you will find the smoke flavor of fish and the taste of shrimp.
This Ghanaian dip can be very smooth or chunkier, mild or very spicy, depending on the household.
- 2 cups rapeseed oil (or peanut oil)
- 3 red onions , cut into small cubes
- 4 cloves garlic , very finely chopped
- 1 (3-inch) piece fresh ginger , peeled and finely grated
- 1 tablespoon crushed thyme leaves
- 4 oz. green kpakpo shito peppers (or green Scotch bonnet peppers, or alternatively 2 tablespoons dried green pepper flakes), diced with seeds
- 6 tablespoons tomato purée
- 5 oz. chilli powder
- 2 oz. ground dried shrimp
- 2 oz. smoked fish powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper , freshly ground
- 1 teaspoon salt
Heat a heavy-bottomed saucepan, then add the oil and fry the onions over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes until they become translucent.
Add garlic, ginger, thyme and green kpakpo shito peppers. Mix well and fry for a few minutes, stirring frequently.
Stir in the tomato purée and mix well.
Pour in the chili powder and continue cooking, stirring constantly for 10 minutes.
Finally, add the dried shrimp and smoked fish powder, then cook over low heat for 40 minutes, stirring almost continuously to prevent the mixture from sticking to the pan.
The content should change from dark red to very dark brown and the oil will rise to the surface when the sauce is ready.
Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Cool, then spoon into sterilized glass jars.
Seal the jars and keep them in the refrigerator for up to a month.