SLMan Meets… The Bosh! Boys
SLMan Meets… The Bosh! Boys

SLMan Meets… The Bosh! Boys


Schoolfriends Henry Firth and Ian Theasby started Bosh! in 2016 with the aim of making vegan food exciting. Their latest cookbook is all about creating food with the look and taste of real meat from veggie ingredients – think new takes on chicken wings, bangers and mash, duck pancakes and beef bourguignon. For anyone who wants to cut down on meat but thinks they’ll miss it too much, SLMan sat down with the pair to talk alt-meat, BBQ tips and the key to epic vegan gravy.
Photography Lizzie Mayson

Henry: Our new book is called Bosh! Meat, which is a little bit out there for a vegan cookbook. With every book we've created, we've tried to bust a misconception about vegan food. The first and second book were all about showing that vegan food can be delicious; we wrote Speedy Bosh! to show it could be quick; we wrote Healthy Vegan to show it can be healthy. Then Bosh! on a Budget was about showing it can be affordable. Meat is all about showing people that you can make meat from plants, and still get those umami flavours and wonderful textures. Some of this can be done by eking out meaty textures and flavours from the likes of mushrooms, aubergines and jackfruit, while other recipes use products you can buy in every major supermarket – which was not the case five years ago.

Ian: The chapter called ‘How to make meat’ took the most trial and error. We did around four or five different versions of the recipe to make the bacon – we had an idea of how we were going to do it, but we ran into trouble trying to execute it. The thing we were having trouble with was binding the white part of the bacon with the red part. Actually, I think we were thinking about it far too deeply – essentially all you need to do is give it a good old squash and it will stick.

H: It’s been eight years since either of us ate meat, but we’re lucky that we have flexitarians on the team. Our mindful meat eaters served as useful tastebuds during the trial process to recreate the taste and texture of the meats we were aiming to replicate.

“Tempeh is tofu’s sophisticated older sister – it's got more flavour and bite than tofu, and you can really hit it with heat in the pan to get some char on it.”

H: There’s always a debate in our comments about whether vegans and vegetarians should be eating anything that resembles meat. That’s great, because it provokes a fantastic conversation. Some people think vegans shouldn't try and replicate meat, but a large quota of people who eat vegan food still like the flavour of meat from back in the day. That includes us. We think it's great to try to create a delicious burger, but do so in a way that’s more sustainable for the planet and doesn't involve the factory farming system. No one likes the idea of what goes on in those giant sheds. Alt-meat is new right now and it can get a lot of criticism, but we see it as fantastic innovation – the ability to create protein from beans and peas is a wonderful thing for humans to have come up with.

I: I think all of us have lived through a food revolution over the past eight years. When we first went vegan, if you walked into the supermarket looking for vegan products, you had to go to the fruit and veg aisle. Now you’ll find dozens of varieties of plant-based milks. There are loads of plant-based meats of course, but now there’s also decent grab-and-go stuff as well and you can get a good vegan sausage roll. It's been incredible to see the difference over the past six years.

I: I initially went vegan for health reasons, because I was carrying a little bit too much weight. I trialled veganism for a bit just to see how I felt – and I felt great. My hair got thicker, my skin got clearer, and the weight dropped off. I felt fresher in the morning too and went to sleep easier at night.

H: I was all about the planet. I was desperate to find something to devote my life to that was going to help fight climate change. When Ian was playing around with this vegan thing, I wasn't impressed by it at first, but the minute I discovered it was a genuinely better option for the planet, I went vegan overnight. Whether you come at it from health, sustainability or animals, you quickly start to get interested in all the other reasons as well – you end up being almost reason agnostic.

I: If you’re looking to add more plants to your diet, don't move too far away from what you already know. For instance, if you really enjoy a spaghetti bolognese, swap out the beef mince for plant-based mince or blitzed mushrooms. Mushrooms have got great texture, they’re really cheap and are really healthy. Don't make it too difficult for yourself, just swap in things that happen to be plant-based.

H: People can freak out about vegan meat because it's new. We’re hearing the phrase ‘ultra-processed’ a lot at the moment. Just remember that a lot of the things you buy in a packet in the supermarket count as ultra-processed, so if the only thing you're stressed out about when it comes to alt-meat is it being ultra-processed, that might be an unconscious bias around the newness of the product. Vegan meats are great. They're often made using a process similar to bread – you’re just using a protein-rich flour, rather than a grain flour.

“Don't move too far away from what you already know. If you really enjoy spaghetti bolognese, just swap out the beef mince for plant-based mince or blitzed mushrooms.”

I: If I’m entertaining, I’ll usually cook a roast – regardless of whether it’s Saturday or Sunday! It’s simple to make a decent vegan gravy – save all the peelings from your vegetables, add them to your stock pot and add a hit of umami by using the cooking juices from your vegan meat in the same way you would if it was real meat. You can also add red wine, soy sauce or Marmite – and you can get some good vegan beef stocks now. Combine all these flavour makers and you’ll get a rich, rounded gravy flavour. 

H: For me, Baja ‘fish’ tacos made using tofu are always a crowd-pleaser. You can use tofu to create a battered fish effect. Serve it with a chipotle vegan mayo, salsa and red onion pickle, and you've got something moreish that looks impressive and isn’t hard to make. 

H: We love a BBQ. Regardless of whether you’re cooking veggies or meat, you should make sure to have a hot zone and cold zone on your BBQ so you can regulate your cooking. Most people put coals all over the base, but you should use the built-in dividers to put your coals in one area and have a coal-free area – that way you’ll have more control over your heat, so you don't burn things. That said, for a treat, I like to throw veggies like onions and garlic straight onto the coals and let them burn.

“Alt-meat is new right now and it can get a lot of criticism, but we see it as fantastic innovation – the ability to create protein from beans and peas is a wonderful thing.”

I: Alt-meat lends itself to a BBQ. Obviously you’ll want burgers or sausages – all of that good stuff – but my tip is that some vegetables work well too. If you get a bit of char on a red pepper, it’s a thing of wonder. You can add sliced courgettes and cauliflower steaks – just make sure to marinate them in something tasty first.

H: There are loads of great vegan spots in London. One of our favourites is Club Mexicana, which serves great Mexican food in Kingly Court. Some of the chains are leading the way – Wagamama do quite a good job – and we’re actually working with some restaurant groups that have fallen behind slightly to help them improve their offering. 

Inspired? Here are three plant-powered recipes to try at home…


‘Duck’ Pancakes

These pancakes are our favourite starter. In fact, we don't think anything else comes close. Chinese five-spiced jackfruit is roasted until super crispy, then mixed with hoisin sauce and orange juice for the perfect pancake filling. Pile them high with crunchy cucumber, spring onions, plum sauce and coriander. The bite of the meat, the sweetness of the sauce, the freshness of the cucumber and spring onion all wrapped up in those delightful thin pancakes. We’ll never get bored of them.

Total Time
45 Minutes
For the duck:
1 x 400g tin jackfruit in water, or mock duck
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 tbsp of toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp of chicken seasoning
2 tsp of Chinese five-spice
1 pinch of sea salt
For the pancakes:
1 medium cucumber
8 spring onions
1 handful of coriander
12 Chinese pancakes
2 tbsp of black & white sesame seeds
6 tbsp of plant-based plum sauce
For the sauce:
1 tbsp of tamari
1 heaped tsp of shop-bought ginger & garlic paste
1 tbsp of toasted sesame oil
4 tbsp of hoisin sauce
Juice of ½ orange
Step 1

Preheat oven to 180°C and prepare the ‘duck’. Drain and pat-dry the jackfruit, then place into a large baking tray and shred using two forks until it has a pulled-like consistency (remove any seeds – they look a little like cannellini beans).

Step 2

Add the olive oil, toasted sesame oil, chicken seasoning, Chinese five-spice and salt. Mix well until all of the jackfruit is coated in the oil and roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes until cooked and crispy, tossing halfway through to ensure they are cooked evenly.

Step 3

Prepare the rest of the ingredients. Trim and halve the cucumber lengthways then scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Cut the two long halves into thirds and cut the thirds into fine matchsticks. Trim and halve the spring onions lengthways, then cut into pieces the same length as the cucumber pieces. Chop the coriander.

Step 4

Cook the Chinese pancakes according to the packet instructions.

Step 5

Mix the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth.

Step 6

Once cooked, take the jackfruit out of the oven and mix through the sauce, ensuring all of the jackfruit is coated.

Step 7

Transfer the ‘duck’ to a serving bowl. Transfer the prepared veggies to serving bowls and put the bowls on the table. Lay the ‘duck’, spring onions, cucumber, sesame seeds and coriander on top of the pancakes, drizzle over some plum sauce. Roll the pancakes up neatly and enjoy.

Lizzie Mayson

Lebanese-Style ‘Lamb’ Flatbreads With Minty Yoghurt

Making flatbread may feel like a labour of love but, really, it involves just a handful of cupboard ingredients and a few kneads to create delicious flatbreads that are soft on the inside with a glorious golden crust on the outside. You could serve them with anything, but we've stacked them high with a crumbled tempeh lamb spiced with mint, lemon and chilli, and drizzled them with a zesty mint yoghurt.

Total Time
1 Hour
For the flatbreads:
140g of strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp of fast-action dried yeast
1 tsp of caster sugar
1 tsp of baking powder
1 tsp of dried mixed herbs
1 tsp of table salt
80ml of lukewarm water
1 tbsp of olive oil
Plant-based butter, softened, for brushing
For the ‘lamb’ topping:
300g of tempeh
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
1 splash of olive oil
1 tsp of ground cumin
½ tsp of ground coriander
½ tsp of ground nutmeg
1 tsp of smoked paprika
1 tsp of chilli powder
2 tbsp of mint jelly
1 lemon
Sea salt
For the mint yoghurt:
A few fresh mint leaves
150g of plain plant-based yoghurt
1 tbsp of mint jelly
1 lemon
Sea salt
To serve:
1 handful of fresh mint leaves
1 handful of pomegranate seeds
1 tbsp of toasted pine nuts
1 pinch of dried chilli flakes
Black pepper
Step 1

In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (the flour, yeast, sugar, baking powder, mixed herbs and salt) until there are no lumps. Pour in the lukewarm water and olive oil, and bring the mixture together to form a dough ball (ensuring you incorporate every part of the mixture).

Step 2

Place the dough ball on a lightly floured surface and knead for 6-10 minutes until the ball bounces back when pressed. Place the ball back in the bowl, cover and leave somewhere warm for at least 30 minutes.

Step 3

Make the topping. Crumble the tempeh into small pieces using your hands. Peel and dice the onion and garlic. Place a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the diced onion, garlic and a pinch of salt. Mix well and cook for 5-10 minutes until the onion begins to soften. At this point, add the spices and crumbled tempeh with a dash of water. Mix well and cook for 5 minutes, then stir through the mint jelly. Halve the lemon and squeeze in some lemon juice, catching any pips in your free hand. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes.

Step 4

Make the mint yoghurt. Thinly slice the mint leaves. Put the yoghurt in a small bowl and mix through the mint jelly, sliced mint leaves and a pinch of salt. Halve the lemon and squeeze in some juice, catching any pips in your free hand. Spoon into a small serving bowl.

Step 5

Place 2 large flat pans over a medium heat (over separate flames). Take the flatbread mixture from the bowl and halve it. Place each piece on a lightly floured work surface and push down using your hands or a rolling pin to create a round, flatbread shape – it should be quite thin as it will become thicker in the pan. Once the pans are hot, add the flatbreads and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden all over and cooked through. If you don't have two flat pans, cook the flatbreads in one flat pan, one at a time.

Step 6

Place the flatbreads on 2 serving plates and brush with some butter. Spoon the tempeh mixture on top of the flatbreads then drizzle over some mint yoghurt. Chop some mint leaves and sprinkle them over the top of the flatbreads, along with a pinch of black pepper, the pomegranate seeds, pine nuts and chilli flakes (or your favourite toppings).

Lizzie Mayson

Orzo ‘Meatballs’

Every time we use orzo – a type of pasta – we’re left wondering why we don't use it more often because it's lovely. On the subject of lovely, the inspiration for this magnificent recipe came from the queen of cooking herself, Nigella Lawson.

Total Time
1 Hour 30 Minutes
For the ‘meatballs’:
20g of flat-leaf parsley (including the stalks)
3 garlic cloves
2 tbsp of chia seeds
600g of plant-based mince
3 tbsp of panko breadcrumbs
4 tbsp of nooch (nutritional yeast) or grated plant-based parmesan
2 tsp of sea salt
2 tsp of ground black pepper
For the sauce:
1 small onion
20ml of olive oil
1 tsp of sea salt flakes
250ml of plant-based white wine
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp of tomato puree
1 tsp of paprika
½ tsp of dried chilli flakes
1 tbsp of red wine vinegar
1 tbsp of light brown sugar
2 tbsp of plant-based butter
285ml of cold water
250g of orzo pasta
To serve:
1 handful of fresh parsley
A sprinkle of nooch (nutritional yeast) or plant-based parmesan
1 small bag of fresh rocket
1 squeeze of lemon juice
Step 1

Finely chop the parsley and set aside. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Soak the chia seeds in a bowl with 4 tablespoons of cold water for about 10 minutes until it forms a gel. Place all the ingredients for the balls into a large bowl and mix together with your hands, being sure not to overmix, as it will make them dense-textured and heavy.

Step 2

Pinch out pieces of the mix and form them into walnut-size balls, putting them on a clean plate as you go. You should get about 20 balls.

Step 3

Peel and finely dice the onion. Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan that's large enough to take the balls and pasta. Add the chopped onion with the salt and cook over a medium heat, stirring every now and again, for about 10 minutes until softened. Add the wine and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato purée, paprika, chilli flakes, vinegar, brown sugar and butter. Fill both the empty tins with the water, give them a good swill, pour into the pan, bring the sauce to a simmer, put the lid on and cook for 30-35 minutes.

Step 4

Cook the balls. Drop them gently into the simmering sauce. Bring back to the boil, turn the heat down again to a simmer, put the lid back on and simmer for 15 minutes.

Step 5

Tip in the orzo, stir gently and increase the heat to bring the mixture back to a bubble. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked. You will have to stir it occasionally throughout this time to make sure the orzo isn't sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Step 6

Chop the parsley. Spoon the pasta into bowls, sprinkle with parsley, nooch and a handful of rocket, add a squeeze of lemon juice and tuck in.

BOSH! Meat: Over 100 Outrageously Tasty Recipes by Henry Firth & Ian Theasby (HQ, HarperCollins) is published on 17th August and is available to buy here.

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