How To Make Ghana Hot Sauce, aka Shito

Ghana hot sauce is very popular and it's usually known by the name "shito", a name that could have connotations dependent on the context! Shito translates to pepper in the Ga language, which is spoken in and around the capital city Accra.

It's a relatively simple sauce to make and it usually accompanies traditional Ghanaian food but it can be eaten with lots of other dishes too.

Ingredients

Here's what you'll need to make your very own hot sauce:

  • Vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 3 large onions
  • Knob of ginger root
  • 150g hot pepper
  • 50g chilli flakes
  • 2 packs of ground prawn
  • 2 packs of cray fish
  • 1 can concentrated tomato puree
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • Garlic (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • Large stock pot
  • Utensils to stir your concoction

Method

Start by heating up about 2 litres of either vegetable or sunflower oil.

While you're waiting for the oil to heat up, peel the onion and ginger root. Cut the onion into quarters and the ginger into 1cm thick slices.

Once the oil is hot, submerge the onion and ginger into the hot oil but be careful as hot oil can cause injuries.

Leave to soften for about 10 minutes before removing onions and ginger from the oil and placing into a blender or food processor together with a little bit of the oil (as it'll blend easier). Again be very careful as the hot oil, onion and ginger can cause injury. If you prefer you can wait for it to cool down slightly before blending it.

Once blended add the onion / ginger mixture back into the oil and put the pot back onto the flame. Leave for a few minutes while stirring frequently.

After a few minutes of cooking you want to get your hot pepper ready to be added to the onion / ginger mix. Obviously, the above ingredient quantities are a guide and you're free to add as much or as little hot pepper as you want to! It all depends on your taste-buds. We like our shito to be a mild to medium level of spiciness and the above quantities will make it so. If you want it extra hot, add more pepper but be warned, the longer the shito is kept once it's been made (and shito can last for weeks and months if preserved properly), the hotter it will become because there's more time for the flavour and heat to develop.

Add your hot pepper and chilli flakes and leave to cook for another 3-4 minutes while stirring frequently.

Now you want to add the concentrated tomato puree. Ensure that you keep stirring thoroughly while you're adding the puree because it will form lumps and you want to make sure that it's evenly distributed. Again, leave for a few minutes to cook and for the flavours to amalgamate.

You can now add the ground prawn and cray fish while stirring continuously. Leave for a further 5 or so minutes before adding the additional ground ginger. You can now also add the garlic, if you so choose.

Lastly, add some salt to enhance the flavours even further. Turn off the heat and leave slightly bubbling; stir occasionally while the shito is cooling down.

Once the shito has cooled down you can then fill it into pots to go into the fridge.

In order to best preserve the shito make sure that you have a layer of oil on top of the actual hot sauce; this oil will serve to preserve your hot sauce and will keep it edible for a good few weeks or even months. Obviously, always use your best judgement when consuming food that has been in the fridge for a while. When you remove the shito from the container that you have put it in make sure that you only remove the ground sediment and not the oil (you want the oil for preserving and don't want to eat too much of it).

If you ever find yourself with little to no oil left on top of the hot sauce, our advice is to heat up a little bit of vegetable or sunflower oil, let it cool down and pour on top of the sauce to continue to preserve it. Also shito freezes well but you want to make sure to freeze it without the oil. Once you remove the shito from the freezer and defrost it, heat up some extra oil to place on top and pop it in the fridge for consumption.

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