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Red Kpakpo Shito Chile Peppers
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Red Kpakpo Shito peppers are small in size, averaging 2-3 centimeters in diameter, and are globular and compact in shape with a wrinkled appearance. The shiny, smooth skin is green when young and transforms to bright red when mature, typically bearing 3-4 lobes with many creases and folds. The pale red flesh is crisp and succulent, and there is a central cavity filled with small, cream-colored seeds. Red Kpakpo Shito peppers measure around 37,500 SHU on the Scoville Scale and are milder than common habaneros, but still provide a spicy kick to culinary dishes. The red peppers are fragrant with a light fruity scent and have a sweet, spicy flavor.
Red Kpakpo Shito peppers are available year-round in select regions in Africa.
Red Kpakpo Shito peppers, botanically classified as Capsicum chinense, are tiny fruits that grow on a medium-sized, upright leafy plant and are members of the Solanaceae or nightshade family. Predominately found in Western Africa, Red Kpakpo Shito peppers are favored in Ghana for their sweet, fragrant heat and are often grown in backyard gardens for daily use. The peppers are also known as Cheeky peppers and Pettie Belle peppers and are popularly used in their immature, green state, but the mature versions can also be used to flavor sauces, salsas, and stews.
Red Kpakpo Shito peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C and also contain potassium, calcium, vitamin A, and iron.
Red Kpakpo Shito peppers are best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as boiling and sautéing. Due to the pepper’s miniature size, it is most commonly chopped with garlic, ginger, salt, and onions and added to sauces, stews, and salsas. The sauce ingredients may vary depending on the region it is made in, but is typically used as a marinade for fish, vegetables, and grilled meats. The sauce can also be mixed into mayonnaise and used as a dipping sauce for fish and chips, blended into gravies, cooked into Ghanaian tomato stews, or topped over fried plantains. In addition to sauces, whole Kpakpo Shito peppers can be dropped into soups and boiled, or they can be dried and ground to make chile sambal. Red Kpakpo Shito peppers will keep 1-2 weeks when stored whole and unwashed in the refrigerator.
Kpakpo Shito pepper sauces are one of the most popular condiments in Ghana and are beloved by the Ga people of Accra, which is the capital city of Ghana and the center of commerce. Spice is an important component in Ga cooking, and the Kpakpo Shito pepper sauce has many different variations depending on the family or chef creating the sauce as the recipes are passed down through oral tradition. Many sauce recipes are also being adapted to modern cooking, infusing new flavors introduced through globalization, and the sauce is sometimes mixed with coconut oil, smoky ingredients, additional hot chiles, or bell peppers and tomatoes for added flavor. Kpakpo Shito sauce is favored in Ghana for its ability to quickly add flavor to dishes, and it is seen as a common household ingredient and as a trendy condiment used at restaurants and by street vendors. The sauce can be used raw, but is often cooked to develop richer flavors, and is served over the traditional dish of fried fish and kenkey, which is a dough-like dumpling that readily absorbs the spicy condiment.
Red Kpakpo Shito peppers are native to Africa, but their exact origins are mostly unknown. Believed to be a habanero variety, habanero peppers came to Africa from South America via Spanish trade routes and were spread throughout the continent, especially to Western Africa. With their introduction to Western Africa, new varieties of peppers were developed over time through cultivation, eventually creating the Kpakpo Shito. Today Red Kpakpo Shito peppers are found in backyard gardens and are cultivated on a small scale in regions across Western Africa, specifically in Ghana.
Recipes that include Red Kpakpo Shito Chile Peppers. One is easiest, three is harder.
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