Traditional Shito Sauce is a robust pepper and onion sauce from Ghana with a lot of ginger and spices, perfected with umami from shrimp and anchovies. This sauce is both a finishing sauce and a marinade. It is used as a catsup, hot sauce or chili oil. This is eaten with rice, meat, veggies and bread. Originally developed by the Ga tribe, it is now a favorite all over Ghana and is eaten with almost anything and everything. Enjoy this Shito Sauce and chicken recipe! Happy Summer:)
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What is Shito Sauce?
Shito sauce is a tasty and unique sauce with fresh ingredients simmered in a lot of oil. Yep, simmered, not fried. The fresh ingredients include a lot of onions, peppers, garlic, ginger, shrimp, fish, tomatoes and spices. It takes 2-3 hours to make and large batches are made at a time. This sauce keeps well in the fridge and freezer. I would call this a slow food Ghana.
I came across some Shito BBQ chicken on Youtube while bingeing on recipe videos and was smitten with the color of this marinade and sauce. The ingredients sounded intriguing especially the ‘shrimp or fish powder’. This makes sense since seafood adds umami to dishes. Sources of umami include soy sauce, fish sauce, anchovies, tuna etc. Umami is a robust taste that gives a dish some ‘depth’. It works on our glutamate receptors on our tongue. It’s why we add anchovies to caesar salad dressing or fish sauce/soy sauce to just about anything Asian. I doubt our ancestors knew about the glutamate receptors on our tongues but they sure figured out great taste when developing their recipes.
I substituted canned shrimp and anchovies for powdered shrimp and fish since I couldn’t find any where I lived. If you have some in your area, definitely try it. This would be added when you add the spices in the end instead of in the beginning like I did with the canned seafood. Also, instead of cooking for an additional 30 minutes, you would cook for an hour. This allows all the flavor to develop from the dried seafood. I had to add the canned seafood in the beginning so that the moisture would simmer out.
How to prepare Shito Sauce
The fresh ingredients are blended in a food processor until a paste texture develops and all big chunks are cut up. Starting out with 3 cups of oil, the fresh mixture is simmered for 1-2 hours uncovered until all of the moisture from the ingredients is cooked out. Spices and tomato paste is added and cooked additionally on low. Be careful to stir frequently and scrape the bottom. This mixture can burn easily. Add more oil as needed to maintain a pesto-like consistency.
What is Shito Sauce used for?
Shito sauce is used both as a marinade and as a finishing sauce. It can be used to dip food into, on the side or in the dish itself. This works great in BBQ. Just marinate the meat or veggies for 30 minutes and grill until cooked well. Pour extra sauce on top after cooking is completed.
This sauce keeps well in a mason jar in the fridge with a light layer of oil on top. You can also freeze this.
I used Shito as both a marinade and finishing sauce in my smoked chicken that I cooked in my Oklahoma Joe Longhorn 1,060 sq in Smoker. I chose this smoker after scouring BBQ chats and reviews online. You don’t need something this big to smoke, many people also like their little Weber grill. If you do decide to buy a smoker, choose one with thick metal, not the thin cheap stuff. It’s more expensive but otherwise you will have to cover your smoker with aluminum foil in order to keep the heat up. I made that mistake on my last smoker which was an inexpensive barrel smoker.
You can be a smart shopper and pick up one of these smokers at the end of Summer for a bargain like I did. I got mine for about half price. If you need to have one NOW, then you can either pick one up locally, or shop on Amazon with the link above and get free shipping. This might be a good option if you have a small car.
You don’t need a BBQ or smoker at all to make great Shito Chicken, just bake it in the oven:)
A traditional condiment and marinade from Ghana.
- 2 white onions, chopped
- 3 peppers of your choice, I used anaheim peppers
- 8 oz of shrimp, I used canned (drained)
- 2 oz can of anchovies
- 4 Tbs ginger paste
- 4 cloves garlic
- 6 oz tomato paste
- 2 Tbs coriander, ground
- 2 Tbs cumin, ground
- 2 Tbs chile pepper, I used Korean gochugaru
- 3-5 cups of vegetable oil
- Place first 6 ingredients in a food processor and process until a smooth paste is formed.
- Add mixture to 3 cups of vegetable oil in a large dutch oven on low-medium heat. Bring up to a simmer and stir frequently.
- Simmer for 1-2 hours, until all moisture has steamed out of fresh ingredients, stirring frequently, scraping bottom to prevent burning. Add more oil as necessary to keep at a pesto-like consistency.
- After moisture has steamed out, add spices and tomato paste, stir well, simmer for 30 more minutes. Sauce is done.
- Store a small amount in a mason jar with a layer of oil over it, keep in the fridge. Use as a condiment on eggs, chicken, as a bread dipper, marinade etc.
- Store the remaining in quart freezer bags and keep in freezer until ready to use.