I'm a little surprised it took me this long to post about 蒜 (suàn), the Chinese character for garlic. Garlic is one of my favourite seasonings, and I can't think of many dishes that aren't improved by its presence. Judging by my vocab lists, though, I actually learned around 50 or 60 other characters before I got around to 蒜! I think this is perhaps because it doesn't appear nearly as often on Chinese menus as it does in Chinese dishes — it's pretty much taken for granted that a savoury dish is likely to have some garlic in.
This is good news for garlic lovers, though; if you see 蒜 in the name of a dish, you can be pretty sure that the garlic is a significant component. One example of this (or, rather, a family of examples) is provided by the mix-and-match green vegetable options I've posted about before — look out for 蒜泥 (suàn ní), 蒜茸 (suàn róng), or 蒜蓉 (suàn róng), all of which basically mean "mashed/minced garlic".
Here are some other examples:
|蒜泥黃瓜||suàn ní huáng guā||cucumber with mashed garlic|
|蒜蓉蝦春卷||suàn róng xiā chūn juǎn||minced garlic and prawn spring rolls|
|蒜燒肚條||suàn shāo dǔ tiáo||tripe strips cooked with garlic|
|清蒸蒜蓉带子||qīng zhēng suàn róng dài zi||steamed scallops with minced garlic|
|蒜香鴨舌||suàn xiāng yā shé||duck tongues with garlic|
Another interesting dish I spotted while compiling this post is one from the Dōngběi (東北/northeastern Chinese) section of the menu at Le Wei Xiang in Lewisham, southeast London: 蒜苔炒肉 (suàn tái chǎo ròu), which is translated as "fried pork with garlic sprouts". Presumably these are the stems of the garlic plant — I found a photo on Flickr which seems to bear this out. Sung, in comments, points out another name for garlic shoots/garlic sprouts: 蒜心 (suàn xīn), which translates literally as "garlic hearts".
|蒜:||suàn||radical 140 (艸/艹)||Cantodict||MandarinTools||YellowBridge||Zhongwen|