Tien Tsin Strawberry Salsa

Tien Tsin Strawberry Salsa will hit you with heat and an acidic flavor at first bite, but your tastebuds will be rewarded after that first punch with the sweet and pleasant addition of strawberries and cinnamon basil leaves.

I was inspired to make this salsa after I came across Tien Tsin Peppers and Sanaam Chiles at Penzeys Spices in Tucson. I had never seen these peppers before and wanted to challenge myself to create new salsas with them.

Tien Tsin Peppers are also known as Chinese Red Peppers and are native to the Tientsin Province in China. They are commonly used in Sichuan-Style Cooking and is an integral ingredient of Kung Pao Chicken. These chiles can be six times hotter than jalapeños and similar in taste to Pequins or a Bird’s Eye Pepper. Check out this article from Spices Inc. to learn more about Tien Tsin Peppers.

To help balance out the Tien Tsin’s heat, I searched for ingredients that could bring some sweetness to the salsa. I decided to go with strawberries and cinnamon basil. I felt that strawberries would be a good compliment to Tien Tsin not only for the taste, but also to keep the salsa a rich red color.

I have been growing cinnamon basil in my garden for the past two years and love the fresh flavor it possesses. If you can’t find cinnamon basil, feel free to use regular basil and add a 1/8 tsp of ground cinnamon.

With the variety of flavors that the Tien Tsin Strawberry Salsa contains, it went incredibly well as a topping for my crispy orange chicken, teriyaki salmon, rice, and veggies I made for the week…as well as an addictive snack with chips.

9 Tien Tsin peppers, seeded
12 strawberries, tops removed
10 cinnamon basil leaves (or regular basil with 1/8 tsp of ground cinnamon)
1 garlic clove
¼ cup white vinegar
½ cup cold water
¼ tsp ginger
¼ tsp salt

Pour the water and vinegar into the blender. Remove the seeds from the peppers (may need to break the dry peppers into small pieces, so you can remove the seeds). Place the peppers and the rest of the ingredients into the blender. Purée for two minutes, until well combined.

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