My understanding of the word “shito” is that it is the Ghanaian word for pepper. Whether you are dealing with scotch bonnet or chillies, or the fresh peppery salsa, in Ghana, we simply refer to these as “shito”. We may differentiate between different types by appending the type before the word, for instance kpakpo shito (pictured) used in the fresh shito salsa, for which I do not know the English word.
Now onto the black pepper sauce. Note, we used to refer to this type of shito as simply black pepper when we were kids. I made this as an accompaniment at my Christmas feast. You will need:
400ml of vegetable oil (um, yeah, not fat-free, this is a condiment)
3 inches of ginger (you can’t overdo it)
4 cloves of garlic (as much or little as you like, mama would skip altogether)
1 tube tomato paste (200g)
4 fresh ripe tomatoes
3 x 40g packets ground dried shrimp, fish or crayfish (availability)
2 tbsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp each smoked paprika, ground cumin, ground coriander (all optional)
salt to taste
1. Finely chop the onions, ginger and garlic. Me, I just blitz them in my chopper! Fry these in the oil. Remember this shito is a condiment and can be kept for 6 weeks, so it is important that all moist ingredients are fried dry.
2. Add the tomato paste and fry for a couple of minutes to get rid of the sour taste. Add your blended or blitzed tomatoes. You will find that it fries to a thick rich paste but you need to give this time to release all the moisture and keep stirring to prevent burning.
3. Add the dried ground ingredients. The sauce will rapidly take on the rich brownish black colour due to the added prawns or crayfish. Lastly add the spices, these are already dry. Check for seasoning at this point. I normally do not add salt before this point because sometimes the fish/prawns are already salted. Allow to cool. The full-bodied flavour sets in after cooling.
Enjoy as an accompaniment a spoon at a time. Store in a re-used glass jar; jam or pasta sauce jars are perfect. Oh and by the way, I know the name “shito” might crack you up just as much as it did to my friends in Australia. Well, it tastes great so just shut up and eat shito!