African Food, Literature, Lifestyle

King Crab Legs with Spicy Ghanaian Shito and Tomato Sauce

King Crab Legs with Spicy Ghanaian Shito and Tomato Sauce

I’ve adopted some components of this sauce from Sisi Yemmi, a Nigerian food and lifestyle blogger based in Lagos. Hers is one that she uses for an incredibly tasty pasta sauce that my hubby quickly devours whenever I make it. I’ve added fresh, cubed tomatoes to mine for a more robust and saucy dish. Shito, I’ve always thought, is a condiment beloved only by Ghanaians –we eat it with everything! It contains the love of every mother that has sendt her child off to top Ghanaian boarding schools, enjoyed with gari and possibly a can of sardines when the school’s canteen is closed for the night. I’ve never experienced such dependence on the dark sauce — I left Ghana long before I could roam the halls of prep school dormitories , but my husband has many a story to share about the musings of a school boy who’s shitor ran out before he completed the semester. I digress.

When I saw Sisi Yemmi mixing the familiar condiment with savory herbs and spices, I instantly became fixated. When? How? WHERE did the Nigerians get the shitor from, and how do they even eat it in their country? She even created a video where she baked chicken in the oven and COATED it in my country’s official dipping sauce. To be honest, I felt a little cheated, slightly possessive. Competitive even. Ghanaians were not making good use of our food stuffs. We tend to eat it the way we’ve always eaten it: as an accoutrement to main meals that are rich in carbohydrates and no other way. The Nigerians were winning the race in culinary creativity while we gathered to dip our kenkey and bankus into the spiced oily sauce the same way that our ancestors had done for centuries. Something had to change.

The idea to use crustaceans came to me during the holiday season when they were not as expensive as off-season crabs. As I’d mentioned before, Sisi Yemmi’s recipe did not include the cubed tomatoes, but it helps to have them in this dish, as they add body, and provide the necessary coating for the crab.


About 4 large King crab legs, cut at the joint, thawed and steamed before starting the sauce

4 juicy Roma tomatoes, cubed

3 cloves of scallions, minced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 finger of ginger, diced, minced or thinly sliced, depending on your preference.

1 tablespoon olive oil

As much prepared shitor as you’d like

2 teaspoons curry powder

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1 teaspoon white pepper

One Maggie or Knorr cube (optional)

Salt to taste


In a large pan, add oil and set the stove temperature to medium heat.

Add the scallions, garlic, and ginger and sautee for about three minutes

Add the shitor and stir well

Add the tomatoes and cover, allowing the tomatoes to soften, about 10 minutes. Be sure to stir often to prevent burning.

Sprinkle in the remaining seasonings and stir to incorporate with the sauce.

Taste for salt. Add some to your taste.

Add the crab and turn it so that each piece is well coated.

Reduce heat to medium low and allow crab to gently simmer in the sauce, about another seven minutes.

Serve with jollof or any other type of rice, tuber, or grain that you prefer.