I was having a craving for something fried last night, and I had a block of tofu in the fridge, so Lo! Fried tofu.
This is very easy and quick to make, and healthier than it sounds. I paired it with some Thai peanut sauce I already had. The key is to press all the moisture out of the tofu, since water + fry = mess. Sandwich it between two sets of paper towels and put a big heavy skillet, or any big heavy thing, on top. Change the paper towels as needed, until the tofu is no longer weeping moisture. (If you start with a block of firm or extra-firm tofu, this doesn't take long at all.) Then cut in half lengthwise, and cut each half into approximately five blocks. Meanwhile, start 1 cup or so of vegetable oil in a skillet (preferably cast-iron). When the oil is hot, lightly dip each side of each block of tofu into some cornstarch. Fry for a few minutes on each side. Serve piping hot.
Cost: a block of tofu is about $2, the cost of the cornstarch was negligible, and let's say the cost of the oil was 25 cents. $2.25 total for a great appetizer for two or meal for one, and it takes just minutes to prepare. An order of fried tofu at the local Chinese place runs $4.99, and you get less tofu.
A lot of people needlessly diss tofu, thinking it will taste like something vegan hippies eat. Au contraire--tofu merely takes on the flavors of its surroundings. It has very little flavor of its own, meaning you can add it to almost anything for a great cheap source of protein. Fried tofu tastes mostly like fried, with a nice creamy center. And let's face it--this dish was really just a delivery system for the sauce, anyway.