Citizens, your unmatched sovereign – the royal and highly-inflexible monarch that is TFD! – is extremely fond of Ghanaian food! I have several recipes from the country and the entire region of West Africa already in the blog and now I will add yet another that is guaranteed to tickle your taste buds in several delicious ways!
Shito is the word for pepper in Ga, a Ghanaian language from Accra, the Ghanaian capital. While the word for pepper is different for each of the Ghanaian native languages, shitor din (black pepper), commonly called ‘shito’, is widely used as the name for the hot black pepper sauce ubiquitous in Ghanaian cuisine.
Shito sauce consists primarily of fish or vegetable oil, ginger, dried fish, prawns, crustaceans, tomatoes, garlic, peppers and spices. The blend of spices and fish differs between different regions and villages but owes its original recipe to the Ga tribe.
In Ghana, shito is used with a variety of dishes. These include kenkey, steamed rice, eba and waakye (rice and beans). Indeed, its uses have been adapted to that of a local ketchup, hot sauce or chili oil. It is not uncommon to find shito being eaten with white bread or spring rolls. In most Chinese restaurants across Ghana, shito replaces hot oil as a condiment to fried rice/steamed rice.
As noted by author Maeve O’Meara:
Smoking fish in West Africa is an age-old tradition, with smoked fish viewed as ‘food for the Gods’, and is often a part of religious ceremonies and presented on altars. Shito is made from smoked fish, chilli and palm fruit oil, which Kunle describes as ‘liquid gold’, extracted from the fruit (not the kernel) of the palm tree and with anti-viral and antibacterial properties.
It’s like a coarse paste with a chilli warmth and a smoky flavour, and is traditionally served with fried plantains, blanched green leafy vegetables such as English spinach or kale, and steamed rice. It can also be used as a natural seafood flavour enhancer by adding to seafood soups or pasta.
Citizens, my version hews to tradition but since one ingredient (smoked fish powder) is very hard to find outside Ghana, I’ve come up with – immodestly – a genius substitution. I use katsuobushi – dried, smoked bonito flakes from Japan! 😀
An old sneaker would taste delicious slathered with this umami-rich and spicy sauce – I hope you enjoy it! I think of this as African XO sauce, by the way… You can buy the more unusual ingredients such as red palm oil, grains of paradise, katsuobushi, gochugaru flakes, Maggi Shrimp cubes and crayfish powder from the links.
Battle on – The Generalissimo
The Hirshon Ghana Black Chili Sauce – Shito