Fresh Pepper Sauce

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Preparation info

    • Difficulty


Appears in

The Ghana Cookbook

By Fran Osseo-Asare and Barbara Baëta

Published 2015

  • About

This is Ghana’s salsa. It needs wonderful fresh tomatoes and chili peppers to do it justice—the good soup (or sauce) truly comes from the good earth. The “proper” (and easiest and most efficient) way to make the sauce is using an asanka and the wooden mashing tool (apotoyewa or apotoriwa). It can be prepared without them but remember the texture is very important: one does not want a watery, bland, uninteresting mess. When using a clay asanka, scald the asanka with boiling water before and after use. Barbara Baëta cleans hers using a little lemon juice as well.

For a “red” sauce use red chili peppers, for a “green” sauce use green chili peppers. Read “Cooking with Peppers” before beginning and use proper precautions when working with chili peppers. The proportions are flexible. Adjust according to personal preference.


  • 2 tablespoons minced red or green chili pepper of your choice (kpakpo shito are used in Ghana; see pepper heat chart), with or without seeds and membranes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • cups chopped fresh plum or other variety tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste


Directions using an asanka

  1. Put the chopped ingredients in the asanka with salt. Using a rocking motion, crush a little of the ingredients at a time, and continue working around the bowl until everything is well mashed, but small pieces still exist, about 10 to 15 minutes. (A Ghanaian friend/spouse would likely be glad to assist—it is not as easy as it looks.) Adjust the seasonings to taste.
  2. The sauce can now be eaten, but Barbara advises simmering it over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes to make it less watery and raw tasting.

Directions using a blender

  1. Use the same ingredients, but grate rather than chop a portion of the onions and tomatoes and set them aside with a little of the minced chili pepper.
  2. Very briefly pulse the rest of the ingredients in a food processor or electric blender, then remove and combine with the grated ingredients. Adjust seasonings and simmer over low heat for 15 or 20 minutes if desired.

To serve

Fresh pepper sauces go well with Ghana-style Grilled Tilapia, Ghana Fried Fish (Kenam). or eggs. If not eaten immediately, refrigerate and use within a day or two.


Substitute red or green sweet bell peppers for part of the chili peppers if you like less heat.