The Fermented Sauce Marcus Samuelsson Loves For Extra Flavorful Soup

Marcus Samuelsson has been in the cooking game for a long time: He runs several popular restaurants, is the author of several cookbooks, and even cooked the first state dinner of the Obama Administration. Needless to say, he has several cooking tricks up his sleeve, including knowing about under-the-radar fermented sauces that can zhuzh up a plain bowl of soup into something unexpectedly delicious.

While soups can be seasoned in a variety of ways, like with an acidic element or an umami flavor, sometimes it's good to take a more unconventional route. During an episode of his Audible podcast, "Seat at the Table," via YouTube, Samuelsson revealed a cooking tip he picked up from a soul food queen. 

After citing soul-food pioneer Alberta Wright, who passed away in 2015, as one of his biggest inspirations, Samuelsson said she taught him to use shito, a certain fermented sauce from West Africa, to amp up the flavor of a bowl of soup.

Shito sauce for soup

A staple of Ghanaian cooking, shito sauce is a dark, pungent, and chile-specked oil that can be made in a variety of ways. It has a smoky, earthy, fishy flavor and can be used to marinate, dip, dress, spread on bread, or as a topping. The savory sauce can be eaten with anything but is exceptional as an accompaniment to meat and fish and can also infuse a classic British platter of fish & chips with West African flavor.

Samuelson said on his podcast that shito sauce (also spelled sheito) is to Ghanaian cooking what miso paste is to Japanese cooking, except with more of a spicy kick. His preferred shito sauce is a fermented shrimp paste with chilis, which is easy enough to make yourself if you have on hand dried fish, ground shrimp, onions, chili, garlic, scotch bonnet, tomato puree, cloves, and salt. 

To season your soup with shito sauce, all you need to do is take a spoonful of your sauce and drizzle it in on top, then enjoy the transformed flavor of the soup with a shito kick.