Traditionally shito (SHE-toe) was as ubiquitous in Ghana as ketchup is in the U.S. Shito literally means “pepper” in the Ga language, and can refer to hot peppers or the hot sauce/condiment itself made from dried peppers, dried shrimps, and sometimes small dried herrings as well as onion, tomato, and other seasonings.
When I taught in Nungua, a Ga area, Ga Kenkey (aka komi) was commonly eaten with shito and fried fish (Kenam). I have always assumed that shito is a Ga invention. It is popular with boarding school students throughout the country, likely because it pairs well with both kenkey and gari, filling and inexpensive foods that do not require refrigeration, along with canned corned beef or sardines. In Twi, the word for “chili pepper” is mako, so shito is also called mako tuntum (black or dark pepper).
The recipe for shito has largely been an oral tradition until the past 20 years when it started appearing in some cookbooks. There are now a number of online recipes also. However, it deeply saddens me to see imported tabasco sauce frequently replacing shito on restaurant tables in Ghana.
Making shito is generally a complicated and time-consuming process, and also produces a strong “fishy” odor while cooking. Friend and colleague
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