This popular Ghanaian shito recipe is tasty, bursting with rich and bold African flavors. Ghana black pepper sauce is the African version of hot sauce or ketchup without sugar and makes every food taste better.
What is Shito?
Shito is a local Ghanaian hot pepper sauce or condiment eaten with most local dishes. Even though it is a typical sauce in most homes, recipes vary widely. The sauce can be hot, spicy, mild, smooth, textured, loaded, or plain. With this basic recipe, you can adjust the ingredients to your taste.
Like many Ghanaians, I have a long history with this shito sauce. I made my first shito when I went to the boarding house at high school. It wasn’t the best shito, but my recipe improved over time. Most boarding house students in Ghana have shito in their chop box since you can eat the shito with any food at the dining hall or in the dormitories.
Shito is found in both high school and college students shopping. Shito, combined with gari (fermented cassava dough made into coarse flour) and sardine, is a lifesaving food for Ghanaian students on a tight budget. At college, I had the opportunity to cook the shito on a large scale to feed mission workers. I went on to make shito to sell on a commercial level for a while. Though I don’t sell them anymore, I still make them for my family to enjoy.
I hope you give this shito recipe a try to taste a bit of my story and my Ghanaian culture.
Ingredients for Making Shito
Fresh onion – a combination of sweet red and white onions was used
Garlic- fresh garlic bulb for a better flavor
Ginger- Fresh ginger root was used
Pepper– fresh bell peppers and ground chili peppers were used. You can use add 1 Scotch bonnet or habanero chile.
Tomato paste- thick tomato paste and not tomato sauce
Smoked dried fish– ground smoked dried fish and whole smoked dried fish were used. You can add smoked dried pieces of beef to the sauce for a more rough texture.
Smoked dried shrimps – ground smoked dried shrimp was used. You can buy whole dried shrimp and blend them into powder too. If you don’t have access to shrimps, don’t worry I have you covered. You can buy fresh or frozen ones and bake them in the oven at a low temperature until the shrimp are well dried.
Oil-vegetable oil was used but feel free to use any cooking oil you prefer.
Spices: clove, black pepper, white pepper, Maggi cube, and salt.
How to Make the Ghanaian Shito Sauce
Begin by peeling the onion, ginger, garlic, and bell pepper, cutting them into pieces, and blending them into a smooth consistency. Wash and break the smoked fish into pieces if used and set aside.
Heat oil in a large pot or pan and cook the onion mixture to reduce the water content while stirring occasionally.
Add the tomato paste and dried fish pieces to the cooked onion mixture. Cook for about 20 minutes and occasionally stir to prevent the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Then add the powdered chili pepper—Cook for additional 10 minutes. Add the dried powdered shrimp and pepper to the sauce. Cook on low heat for additional 40 minutes while stirring frequently. The sauce will turn from deep red to dark brown.
Add salt and all the spices to the sauce, taste, and adjust.
Allow the sauce to cool and transfer it to a sterile bottle or jar with a tight-fitting lid.
Tips for making the shito
- Use powdered onion, garlic, and ginger for a more convenient version.
- Stir the sauce continuously to prevent it from burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Use a heavy bottom pan or non-stick pan
- Adjust the pepper to your taste.
- To store the sauce out of the fridge, make sure to cook the sauce well and that there is no water or liquid in it. Also, use enough oil to cover the sauce to act as a preservative.
- If you want more textured sauce, dice the onion, garlic, and ginger instead of blending.
- Always use a dry spoon to prevent the sauce from going bad when taking some from the jar.
What to eat with the Black Pepper Sauce / Shito
This shito can be used in many ways, and your imagination only limits you. Below are some serving suggestions.
Shito goes well with fish dishes and can be served with fried rice, jollof rice, and plain boiled rice. The most popular way you are likely to enjoy this shito if you visit Ghana is with waakye (rice and beans), kenkey (steamed cornmeal), and fried fish.
For a more sophisticated use, you can add them to the cheese board as a spicy condiment. You can also serve it with spring rolls. Shito can be used as a dipping sauce for fried yams or potatoes.
How to Store Shito
Shito keeps well for a long time when it is well cooked and has no liquid in it. For this shito, allow the shito to cool completely and transfer it to a sterilized jar with a fitted cover. Make sure the sauce surface is covered with enough oil to protect the sauce. You can store the sauce in a cool and dry place for about two weeks or keep it in the refrigerator for up to a month. You can also keep it in the freezer for about 3 months. When ready to use some of the shito, bring it to room temperature and use it as desired.
How To Gift this Shito Sauce
As Christmas and other holidays are approaching, this shito sauce will be a perfect homemade gift for your friends and neighbors. This will allow you to share your food culture with others and make someone’s day too. All you will need is a nice canning jar with a fitted lid, a ribbon, and a label, and the gift will be on its way.
You can make this recipe vegan by substituting the fish and shrimp with dried mushrooms. You can also use any vegan dried fish or shrimp alternative available to you.
Other Ghanaian dishes
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Thanks for reading. As always, know that God loves you, and stay blessed!
Happy cooking and baking!!
Ghanaian shito Recipe
- 5 cups vegetable oil
- 10 medium size onion
- 2 medium bell peppers (1183ml/1.2L)
- 6 cloves garlic
- 2 medium size ginger roots
- 2 tablespoons chili powder( or 4 scotch bonnet)
- ½ cup tomato paste (6 oz / 170g)
- 1 cup ground dried fish (120g)
- 1 cup ground dried shrimps (120g)
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground all spice
- 1 teaspoon black pepper/ white pepper
- 3 stock cubes (Maggi cube)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Begin by peeling the vegetables, then cut then into pieces and use some of the oil to blend into a smooth consistency.
- Heat oil in a large pot or pan and cook the onion mixture to reduce the water content while stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste, salt and all the spices to the sauce, and cook for about 20 minutes and stir occasionally to prevent the sauce from sticking to bottom of the pan.
- Then add the powdered chili pepper if using. Cook for additional 10 minutes. Add the dried powdered shrimp and fish to the sauce. Cook on low heat for additional 30 minutes and stir frequently. The sauce will turn from deep red to dark brown.
- Taste and adjust seasoning and let it cook for 5 more minutes.
- Take it off the heat and allow the sauce to cool completely. Transfer the sauce to sterile bottle or jar with a fitted cover.
- Serve with any dish and enjoy.