This is the original Shingen mochi from the store Kinseiken in Yamanashi Prefecture.
This agar powder is manufactured from algae. It can form clumps, so dissolve it by gradually adding water to it.
Heat the dissolved mixture over high. Once it comes to a boil, turn down the heat to low and continue heating for another 2 minutes while stirring from time to time. Then move the pot to an ice water bath to cool down, for about 3 minutes.
Prepare an ice tray that produces spherical ice. The one I use is from Muji and made with silicone.
Once your ice tray is ready, pour in the mochi liquid with a funnel.
It looks best once plated (on the bamboo leaf) if you pour the mixture just up to the 60% to 70% mark. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour or so, and it's done.
You can get a feel for the texture in this video: http://youtu.be/SK8ExnqPgxU
Story Behind this Recipe
There's a traditional Japanese confectionery store in Yamanashi Prefecture that's known for these water drop Shingen mochi. Since they're so delicate, it can be difficult to get your hands on the real thing if you live far away. I still really wanted to try some, so I made my own at home. Neither gelatin, kanten, nor kudzu seemed to be the right ingredient in reproducing the transparency of the original, but agar worked wonders.
The texture improves if you mix in just a little bit of powdered kanten, but kanten is challenging to work with since it clouds easily. Lay down a bamboo leaf underneath the mochi for a refreshing summer-inspired fragrance and seasonal presentation. It tastes great even without the syrup. This is a great dessert to prepare when you're expecting guests.